7 keys to a successful business intelligence strategy

BI success requires more than just a strong technology platform. It takes laser focus on processes and personnel — and a business-first approach to gaining insights from data.

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Business intelligence (BI) is essential for business growth and competitive advantage, yet reaping benefits from BI requires more than implementing the technology that enables it.

In fact, deploying the technology is the easiest part of any BI initiative, according to Boris Evelson, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. Getting the personnel and processes portions right are much more challenging, he says.

As such, organizations must addresses personnel and processes as key facets of their BI strategy if they want to be successful. Moreover, BI strategies should be broken down even further to address ownership and continual improvement as well.

Following are seven essential components of any successful BI strategy, according to several BI experts.

1. Give business ownership over BI

Organizations that place BI in the hands of business users have greater success rates than those who confine BI within IT, Evelson says. This may mean embedding BI within lines of business or having BI operations report to the chief digital officer or chief customer officer.

“The business must absolutely be in charge,” he adds.

Although the complexities of early BI technologies put IT in charge of many BI programs, today’s tools are more intuitive, allowing them to go straight into the hands of business users who can run the queries that matter to them.

Similarly, the speed at which users need access to data and insights derived from BI has increased dramatically in recent years. Today’s business users often need actionable information in real time and cannot wait for IT to generate reports.

As such, IT ownership can be an impediment, rather than enabler, of BI success, Evelson says.

2. Monitor BI use and adjust as necessary

Although the business should own BI initiatives, IT must remain an active partner in monitoring and evaluating use of BI systems.

As Evelson explains: “Rather than putting up roadblocks, monitor what they’re doing, what data sources they’re accessing, what tools they are using and how they are using them, whether business unit A is using BI more than business unit B.”

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