Is Your Organization BI Ready?

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Is Your Organization BI Ready?

Postby Rehan Legan on Fri Jan 30, 2015 6:30 am

Business intelligence (BI) can be broadly defined as a set of data analysis tools and software applications used to analyse huge amounts of unprocessed and/or unstructured business data to generate meaningful information. This information helps users make decisions that are more informed and improve an organization’s overall operational efficiency. The extent to which an organization can benefit from its BI investment largely depends on its readiness to accept and integrate it with current processes and organizational culture.

As with any technology investment, the actual value of a BI initiative needs to be qualitatively measured in terms of the business value it generates. To maximize this return on investment, you first need to assess the BI readiness of your organization. Here are some tips to for assessment of BI readiness:

1. Invest Strategically
Identify business processes, which have minimum or no impact on the performance of the organization and leave those processes out of BI integration. This will not only result in cost savings, but also speeds up the BI initiative and produce tangible results more quickly. Strategic BI investment on essential and core processes is the preferred way to increase the ROI on BI in an organization. For example, a manufacturing company's core processes are product design, engineering, manufacturing and shipping. Support services and marketing make up non-core processes. Strategically investing BI resources only on the core processes directly effects the production capability, costs, and efficiency of the organization in a significant way.

2. Promote an Adaptive Culture
BI is slowly gaining popularity among organizations in the manufacturing, retail and financial industries. In such organizations, as many staff members are non-technical, there is a learning curve in adapting to new technologies. For this reason, organizational culture plays a major role in determining the success of any BI initiative. To promote a supportive environment, you need to educate your employees on the advantages of using software analytics tools. Incorporating the use and benefits of these tools in your training curriculum can help bring about a change in the work culture.

3. Embrace Continuous Process Improvement
Organizations that have adopted continuous process improvement practices based on new ideas and feedback will have an easier time integrating BI with their current processes. Since outcome of BI suggests improvements to various business areas, a company that encourages an open culture to integrate new processes will see enhanced business productivity and faster adoption of new technologies.

4. Improve Technical Readiness
For a successful BI project, large amounts of quality data is needed in a proper format. This data can be unstructured, but the standards followed to store data should be the same. This allows for easy feeding of data to BI applications. An organization should enforce the use of modern standards for data storage and leave behind the legacy standards. If modern standards are not used, large amounts of data in different formats will have to be converted to a single format before a BI application can process it. This introduces further complications and slows down the entire process, reducing the business value of BI. An organization should also have the necessary expertise to operate and maintain the technical environment required to sustain BI in the long run. A BI application needs to be regularly updated and maintained to keep up with the heavy amounts of data.

5. Implement Selective Functions
Large organizations often have many complex business processes, which are difficult to be modified. In such organizations, particular segments of BI, such as reporting, could be used for required business areas. Different parts of the business have different BI needs and can implement the particular functions required to suit their specific needs. Such functional use of BI helps improve the business processes while reducing the dependency on other parts of business. Managing BI applications as a portfolio of services and using only the required services reduces the overall cost of BI implementation and provides a higher return on investment.

6. Support Structured Decision Making
A structured decision making procedure can simplify BI integration. Business intelligence provides various reports and other information along with statistics to present the best decision scenarios that can be chosen under given conditions. BI can create more value in an environment where the decision-making hierarchy is clearly defined. In such an organization, BI can drive a lot of important decisions based on facts and market conditions to steer the future of the company.

7. Get Help from Experts
Seeking the assistance of a technology consulting company with a strong understand and established practices in business intelligence is often the best way to implement an effective BI application. Organizations can collaborate with technology consultants to help ensure effective BI implementation and integration and to make sure proprietary methods of their company and data storage standards are in place.

BI is a powerful technology that needs to be implemented and used in the right way and applied under the right conditions to derive maximum value from your investment. Assessing your organization’s technology readiness and taking steps to aid new technology adoption will promote a collaborative environment where everyone reaps benefits and contributes to the overall success of the organization.
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Rehan Legan
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