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Business Intelligence: Drivers, challenges, benefits and ROI
8 Apr, 2011 - Lachlan James

Market research company, Gleanster, has released a benchmark study that highlights and analyzes the top drivers, challenges, reasons to implement, and ways to measure the success of a Business Intelligence (BI) implementation.

The company specializes in benchmarking and establishing best practices for technology-based business initiatives. The BI report was based on feedback from 273 respondents.


Benefits: Drivers behind the decision to implement a Business Intelligence solution

The survey found that the top three drivers underpinning the decision to implement a BI solution are:
  1. The ability of a BI solution to help produce better business decisions via timely, accurate and more comprehensive analysis of available corporate information assets
  2. The ability of BI to identify growth opportunities
  3. The ability of BI to reduce costs and wastage by identifying areas of high expenditure, operational inefficiencies and analyzing transactional records
Other drivers included the ability of BI to help:
  • Underpin strategic adjustments in real-time (or near real-time)
  • Identify risks and threats
  • Increase customer profitability
  • Improve and measure workplace productivity by employee, department or function
  • Improve operational and supply chain efficiencies

Key factors to ensure a successful Business Intelligence program

The three most critical factors to support a successful BI project, on an ongoing basis, we found to be the ability to:
  1. Customize dashboards and reports to suite the needs of specific departments and roles
  2. Integrate data types across departments to eliminate knowledge silos
  3. Cultivate a culture of fact-based decision-making via data analysis
Other factors identified as important for ensuring a successful BI project included the ability to:
  • Establish a repeatable process to allow the constant monitoring and improvement of the quality of organizational data assets
  • Adopt standardized approaches and measures
  • Effectively utilize regular and automated report scheduling and exception reporting
  • Provide users with appropriate training to enable self-service analytics

Key challenges faced when implementing a Business Intelligence program

The three most common barriers to a successful BI rollout were identified as:
  1. Breaking down departmental knowledge silos
  2. Integrating the BI tool with other operational, performance management and transactional systems
  3. Establishing and maintaining an appropriate level of data quality to feed into the BI system
Other major challenges encountered included:
  • Securing high rates of user adoption
  • Transforming the workplace from a culture of ‘gut feel’ to one of data-based decision-making
  • Securing executive sponsorship and necessary financial backing by defining tangible ROI

Key methods for measuring the performance of a Business Intelligence platform

Measuring the performance of BI solutions can be problematic. The report lists key metrics that organizations should employ to help identify performance and ROI. The top three are:
  1. The time it takes to answer user queries
  2. The comprehensiveness and usability of information gleaned from data analysis via the BI tool
  3. The number and quality of decisions made as a result of the insights generated via the BI tool
Other useful measures regarding the performance of a BI tool were listed as:
  • Sustained user adoption rates
  • Frequency of use
  • Positive user feedback
  • Employee productivity

Conclusion: Business Intelligence must be easy to use

The Gleanster report makes one simple overarching statement: If BI isn’t easy to use, it’s essentially worthless. WE COULD NOT AGREE MORE.

As we reiterate; time and time again at Yellowfin – it doesn’t matter how good the BI technology is if decision-makers are unable to independently use the BI solution and easily access the actionable information generated.

Yellowfin: Making Business Intelligence easy.

The full report can be downloaded for free here

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