Tips on Making Sure You Are Smart About Business Intelligence


Business intelligence (BI) continues to be one of the enigmas of enterprise computing.


BI's promise is hard to argue with - users throughout your organization can have near real-time access to critical data and metrics. But in practice, BI continues to be a frustration. It's a huge undertaking, and many shops find that they don't get the payoff they anticipated. (Our Loraine Lawson has just discussed that better BI requires a strategic approach to data and the overarching architectural issues that make BI scalable across the business.)


At any rate, it's all quite a bit more complicated than it might seem - and it seems pretty complicated.


If you are evaluating a BI project for your own business, you should check out an excerpt from the book "Business Intelligence for Dummies," which is available for free download for IT Business Edge members here in the IT Downloads library.


The six-page PDF presents Chapter 18 of the book, "Ten Keys to BI Success," which lays out some fairly strategic issues any BI project will have to address if it has any hopes of success.


The following are some of the issues discussed in the chapter. (We're just hitting on the highlights here; you should download the excerpt to get all the useful information.)


Coming to Terms with Complexity

Here's a cheery thought: Assume that problems will take longer to solve in a BI project than you might otherwise expect. Give yourself more time than you might in a more familiar discipline. And most of all, adopt and enforce core processes that can be adapted to suit all kinds of problems.

Considering Corporate Culture Completely

The way the company operates, how it's organized, where the power is and how decisions are made, should all be a part of your planning process. Successful business intelligence projects always include corporate culture in the early information gathering and design phases. At the heart of the corporate culture issue is the question of where the power rests in the company:


  • Centralized: In centralized enterprises, the subsidiaries and outlying teams are operationally subordinate to a central core of executives.
  • De-Centralized: A decentralized culture means that decisions made at the top of the organization are merely starting points for negotiation.

Thinking (and Working) Outside the Box

The complexity of the technology isn't always a bad thing; it gives you alternatives when you've hit an apparent roadblock. Don't assume you have to follow every step of the path laid out by the vendor or the consultant; if you can get your team to think outside the ... well, you know. If you can do that, you're likely to build a solution that takes best advantage of the unique strengths of your company and your team.

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