Six Questions You Need to Ask Before Deploying Business Intelligence - Slide 6

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Your BI deployment will be influenced by the required latency of the data involved. Business intelligence has three possible levels of latency – scheduled update, on demand, and real time.

Scheduled update means that the information does not have to be up-to-the-minute. The data source could be updated on a scheduled basis, such as once a day or each hour. Or, the data can be near real time, updated incrementally within minutes of a transaction. The majority of BI deployments work well with some form of a scheduled update.

On demand means that the user will require direct access to operational data or information contained in a near real-time data warehouse. While this does not necessarily affect the BI deployment itself, it is very uncommon for BI tools to give users access to operational systems, because operational data is usually not stored in a form that is conducive to creating ad hoc queries. However, dashboards, reports, and guided ad hoc reports are highly effective business intelligence deployment methods when on demand access is required.

Finally, true real-time data is only needed to support the monitoring of frontline operational processes. True real time means that the information being displayed is updated as a business event occurs – even before the related data makes its way into a database. Only dashboards and reports enable the dynamic display and update of information as business events take place. Ad hoc query, guided ad hoc, and search are all tools that require a user to initiate information retrieval, which is not true real time because there is always a certain delay, no matter how small, between the event and the access of the related data.

Have you ever deployed a solution or a capability in response to constant end-user demand, only to have it ignored once it was delivered? You gave them what they asked for, so why aren’t they using it? The answer is quite simple. What they say and what they mean are two different things.

A smart IT professional will ask end users about their requirements, before embarking on the implementation of a business intelligence (BI) application. They will ask questions such as: “What information do you need?” and “How do you want it formatted?” The varying answers they receive seem to indicate that what users really need is flexibility. People will also often say that they need to be able to ask ad hoc questions, because the type of information they require is constantly changing. So, the IT professional interprets these requests for ad hoc and flexibility as a need for a business intelligence tool and a data warehouse.

However, anyone with extensive experience in business intelligence will tell you that 95 percent of your users have neither the time nor the skill to use a BI tool. In other words, their answers and the IT professional’s interpretation of them are wrong!

This scenario may seem a bit extreme. But the truth is that users often unknowingly provide incorrect information when expressing their reporting needs. Then, IT mistakenly assumes that users know what they mean when they ask for things like an ad hoc tool.

Through years of experience working with companies of all types and sizes to design and deploy business intelligence systems, Information Builders has determined that there are six key things you need to know about your users before you roll out related technologies to them. In many cases, discovering these six things will require more than just polling end users. This slideshow highlights the six questions you need to know to provide the right business intelligence capabilities to the right people.

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Related Topics : Business Intelligence Vendors, Data Quality, Data Warehousing, Key Performance Indicators, Knowledge Management

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