How to unlock the value of Business Intelligence

Do you effectively leverage all the information your organisation creates and collects? How much of a grip do you have on your organisation’s information and is your IT helping?

Leveraging organisational data is becoming one of the CIO’s most important responsibilities as access to information becomes key to competitive advantage. As a result, business intelligence (BI), the practice of optimising processes and systems to leverage organisational data, continues to grow in popularity. BI helps deliver the right information, to the right people at the right time.

When designed and deployed effectively BI systems can deliver real business benefits and create value through three core pathways. First, BI systems reduce the cost and complexity of processing information. Second, with appropriate infrastructure, BI provides performance insights that can enhance an organisation’s efficiency and effectiveness, allowing for better and faster decisions. Third, BI has the potential to engage people across the organisation in the successful execution of strategy.

New technologies and ways of working are changing the rules of the game and the way that firms compete. The ever-growing needs for reliable information, continuous market insight and the agility to react quickly are increasingly important for businesses world-wide. Recent KPMG research found that half of organisations are expecting to adopt new business models within the next three years. BI solutions are key to ensuring the success of these transformations. However, despite a combined annual global investment of around USD $60 billion in enabling BI solutions, many organisations are not seeing the expected benefits.

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Estimates suggest that 50 per cent of BI projects fail, and recent research by Cambridge University - commissioned by KPMG - provides insights as to why. To unlock the potential of BI, organisations have to simultaneously enhance their organisational and technological infrastructures. However, the research suggests that fewer than 10 per cent of organisations have successfully used business intelligence to achieve this aim. The reasons for this lack of success are clear:

-    First, too frequently simplistic assumptions are made about the nature of BI; it’s not just a technology but a new way of thinking about the way information is collected and utilised across a business.

-    Second, too frequently BI projects are seen as technology projects, with ownership being limited to specialists within an organisation instead of being embedded in processes. It isn’t the CIO’s job alone to implement BI and it cannot work without cross-organisation collaboration and strong business sponsorship. 

-    Third, many organisations are limited by legacy systems and under-developed IT.  Companies struggle to make sense of the information drawn from multiple databases and models that are complex to integrate and difficult to align. The problem is exacerbated by mergers and acquisitions where IT is all too often seen as a solution rather than an enabler.

-    Fourth, established models of management are report-driven and reactionary. Driving real success through BI comes through understanding how to turn this data into information and strategic insight.

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