Maximizing Business Intelligence with the Tools You Already Have

Patrick Avery

When there is a budget crunch, sometimes you have to make the best of what you've got. A recent article published on Computerworld echoes that sentiment as author Robert Mitchell gives readers seven suggestions for maximing the value of their exisiting BI tools.


IT Business Edge editor Ann All recently broke down the article in her blog and gave readers a taste of what Mitchell thinks will improve business intelligence on a tight budget. She outlines four of Mitchell's points.


Consolidate tools. Duplicative technologies rarely make sense, and it's obviously not cost-effective if different groups of users perform similar analyses with different tools. When Allstate Insurance Co. shrank its number of data warehouses from 13 to two and eliminated two-thirds of its BI tools (by scrapping redundant ones and those no longer popular with users), it reduced its software license and support costs, as well as user training costs. The move also made it easier for different departments to share data.


Involve the business. Allstate is using BI to improve two processes, managing loss expense ratios and measuring the effectiveness of its call center. While different departments use a variety of metrics, the company's VP of IT says BI tools all support the upstream metrics monitored by senior management.


Use new data models for new markets. Creativity, Inc., which develops craft products sold through specialty retailers, purchased transactional data from toy, fashion and apparel retailers, added it to its data warehouse and used existing BI software to analyze the information to identify new markets that would be less exposed to competition from low-cost competitors. New products created based on these analyses now account for more than half of the company's sales and represent an even bigger percentage of its margins.


Centralize business intelligence. Many organizations take a scattershot approach to BI. While this workgroup approach to BI isn't without benefits, it also tends to result in siloed applications and data, which makes it tough to perform cross-functional analysis. A recommended element of centralization is establishing a BI center of excellence.


For more tips on business intelligence, check out the BI resources in the Knowledge Network.


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