BI Development - What are the drivers for successful BI?

You are part of your company’s Business development team and one day your boss tells you: ”I have just been at a management meeting. We need to upgrade our focus on customer behavior in order to improve our customer service in the sales department. As a first step, I want you to help the account managers develop a dashboard or analytical tool which can support their daily work."

You consider your first task, which is to get an overview of the existing reports, followed by a meeting with the account managers where you ask them whether these reports cover their needs or they have other reports to be taken into account. You collect the information, analyse the material, and make a plan for how to collect data necessary in order to make the dashboards. You realize the task is complicated, and a BI tool is necessary (if you do not have one already) in order to make a proper solution.

Six months later, the solution is rolled out and all account managers now receive their dashboards in the agreed setup. The account managers are delighted, feeling they get a better support due to a clearer overview and smoother delivery. You are pleased, because you feel the company is now making genuine BI thanks to you. Finally, your boss is happy, because he gets good vibes from the sales manager and the information flow is more aligned with the company strategy of “lean” and “agile” business activity.

In other words, the company has taken a successful step in terms of customer excellence and everything is great, right?

Not really. Your achievements are chiefly cosmetic changes rather than genuine improvements?

You may have taken steps towards “company vital” Business Intelligence. You may have implemented the technology which makes it possible to develop full-blown Business Intelligence. However, the business has not gained greater insight of the information stored within, nor taken steps to integrate BI in order to lift the business to a new competitive level.

Many companies employ such a strategy: Once the technology is implemented and the reports which initiated the project in the first place are up and running, the company considers itself to be full blown in Business Intelligence. Why? Because technology does not complain or changes behavior; and the success is easily measured: Either it runs or it doesn’t.

Now, you may ask: “OK, what are you talking about? Six months ago, we juggled around in excel every day in order to provide the necessary information for the sales team. Now, everything runs automatically, on time, and all AMs get interactive dashboards on their mobile devices.“

Yes, that may very well be. But take a minute to consider the following questions: ”Did anyone in the process challenge the account managers on how they eventually could improve their efforts towards a higher customer service? You went to the AMs to collect information in order to plan your BI strategy, but did you ask your customers? Do you know the overall long term company strategy? Did you have it in mind when you planned your BI strategy?

The point I am trying to make is this: Business Intelligence may be regarded as an IT Service, but it is the IT discipline which is most closely connected to the business. Therefore, when planning BI you need to take many other non-IT factors into account in order to make a successful implementation.

In other words: What do we need to look out for in our Business Intelligence strategy in order to maximize the value for the company as a whole?

Well, below I have made an overview of what I consider to be the major drivers in any long lasting BI strategy when It comes to successful implementation and long lasting Development.

I have divided them into three major areas.

  1. Technology related success drivers
  2. Operational related success drivers
  3. Business related success drivers.

In the posts to come, I will go into detail and explain how I address these areas in my BI strategy and planning.

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