Defining Agile Business Intelligence (Part Two)

Our last blog post compared the ambiguity of wannabe Hollywood starlet, Paris Hilton, and Agile Business Intelligence (BI) solutions. We then posed the question:

What do people mean when they say ‘Agile BI’?

  • Technology: Are they referring to actual easy-to-use and deploy technology and its capabilities and capacity to underpin agile development? 
  • Culture: Do they mean creating a supportive environment for the introduction of a BI solution? 
  • Process: Or are they suggesting the way in which BI is employed/deployed should be agile to meet the specific needs of any given industry or organization?

We came to the conclusion that the term could be legitimately applied to all three definitions.
Having established that, we decided to compile a list of measures to be taken or conditions to be satisfied, under each identified facet – Technology, Culture and Process – to help achieve true Agile BI.
Here it is:

Technology: What do you need to look for in BI solution? – Agile BI technology that:

  • Improves how information is disseminated and used within your business
  • Is flexible – customizable and adaptable to your circumstantial data needs
  • Highly interactive and intuitive
  • Enables and empowers end-users with dashboards, desktop analytic applications, and collaborative technologies
  • Is easy to use and allows end-users to build their own reports, analyze, manipulate and share data without technical support
  • Represents a low-risk investment because its ease-of-use which means end-users quickly adopt the technology rather than resist it
  • Is able to respond to rapid changes in data reporting and analytics requirements
  • Is fast, web-based, can be integrated into existing infrastructure and maintained with a minimum of fuss
  • Can be developed with comparatively lower investment costs so that implementing changes is not financially daunting

How do you build an environment to support BI solution? – Creating a supportive environment for BI means you should:
  • Empower your employees to make decisions to take advantage of pervasive BI
  • Equip as many people as possible from across your organization with the skills and knowledge to access BI data – wide-spread user-adoption is the key factor to successful BI projects
  • Select a BI vendor that can confidently and easily explain its product to enable end-users to develop their confidence and ability in the product
  • Train your staff in your BI solution to maximize end-user adoption
  • Ensure your existing infrastructure and technologies are flexible and adaptable to help the integration process
  • Make sure your employees know why the new technologies are being implemented and that they are comfortable using them
  • Know what you want, and work collaboratively with a BI vendor that can understand your needs – big and small, complex or not – and work with you to develop a customized solution
  • Work closely with BI professionals so that they know all the details of your business to ensure they can design and build applications and infrastructures capable of handling changes in data requirements
  • Keep expectations in-check – BI solutions cannot solve all your business dilemmas
  • Understand the concept of change management and how change is effectively managed and implemented from an organizational and human perspective
  • Have clearly defined business goals and objectives so that Agile BI can effectively help to support those demands
  • Establish good internal communication – For quick change to occur, people at all levels of an organization need to be made aware of how they should change their working habits and patters, to help the transition process. Lack of awareness is a common cause of employee defiance.
  • Have a clear communications plan to deliver the right messages to the right people at the right time.

How do you fashion a BI solution to meet your changing and individual needs? – Flexible and customizable BI vendor approach that allows you to:
  • Easily align reporting with actions and business goals
  • Alter your BI reporting and analytics solution to cope with change in reporting demands
  • Negotiate flexible pricing structures to suit your current and future needs whether you’re an end-user, VAR or OEM
  • Customize the look and feel of the BI solution with existing business software programs to build your own brand and/or reduce end-user resistance
  • Be confident that your BI solution truly embraces agile principles because your BI provider constantly reinvests its profits in product development to ensure an up-to-date BI tool.

It’s clear that Agile BI is as much an approach, and mentality towards business reporting and analytics, as it is a methodology driven by new technology. 
Increasingly, businesses and their personnel are exploiting the benefits of BI, allowing them to respond with immediacy to business demands.
Research demonstrates that to survive and prosper, businesses from all industries and sectors have to be able to scan their external environment and make appropriate proactive and reactive changes. BI solutions enable organizations’ to anticipate and adapt to shifting market conditions.
Yellowfin offers an Agile BI solution virtually out of the box (technology). We then work with our clients to ensure that their specific BI needs and goals are met and that Yellowfin’s BI solution can be integrated and maintained with a minimum of effort (process).

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