It’s the 21st century and everything is fast paced. Through the presence of google, Siri and now Bixby, we expect all our questions to be answered immediately. Business wise, we are constantly hit with questions like – How much profit does this project give us? What’s the update on that venture? How much revenue do we need to break-even? If these data are hard to find, we’ll be spending more time trying to find the data, than analyzing it. Add the fact that these information needs to be accurate, relevant and timely… always! With all these things considered, how can we make the best strategic decisions for the company? Queue in Business Intelligence Tools!
According to George W. Reynolds, Business intelligence (BI) includes a wide range of applications, practices, and technologies for the extraction, translation, integration, analysis, and presentation of data to support improved decision making. (Reynolds, 2010)
A lot of firms already recognize that one critical asset it needs to ensure success — data. But simply having data isn’t enough — it’s how the data is used that will separate successful firms from failed businesses. Companies that have a concrete plan about collecting, organizing and analyzing data will be the ones that will be able to make better business decisions. This is possible through Business Intelligence.
To use BI effectively, a firm must first examine how it operates. Each organization has its own distinct processes and cultures, that should be taken into consideration when evaluating how to use BI. These are the ways I believe organizations can encourage more effective use of BI tools:
Communicate openly and often. The firms with the best BI programs are those that champion openness and transparency. This isn’t just about the numbers and the data — it’s communicating how decisions were made based on that information. Advertise how and why decisions were made, communicate to all levels in the organization and give visibility to everyone who needs information to understand and make decisions. Training users is a crucial step in making this work.
Set Goals. Defining success is critical to ensuring that individuals can use the information obtained from BI to make decisions that align to your firm’s goals. These goals should be realistic and focus more on the future, and less on the past. As you are setting your goals, don’t try to tackle too much at once. Start small, maybe with the monthly revenue forecast. Your staff will realize that the more information they add to the system, and the more up to date they keep it — the better information they will receive.
Show the Value. Firms must also focus on proving the value of its BI program. Driving adoption, understanding and buy-in are critical in managing expectations. Develop internal PR around your program — share successes and, show how data driven decisions have improved performance. The firms that demonstrate the value of Business Intelligence to their employees are able to drive adoption more effectively. Once project managers can see a project’s status and t profitability more easily, they are more apt to use the intelligence and input the data needed to get the information.
These three things in my opinion are the best strategy to encourage more effective use of BI throughout your whole organization. For me, a company that has an open and transparent culture will foster loyal employees. Setting goals will also give them a clear understanding of their responsibilities which will result to better work production. Lastly, showing the results of all their hard work will instill a feeling of satisfaction which will only make them work harder and better. I don’t believe punitive programs are appropriate when pushing forth changes such as usage of BI. Since it already carries a reputation of additional work, giving them “the stick” is just another reason to hate the idea. Giving rewards would be a better idea but only when the data driven decisions through BI have improved performance. This way, employees can relate hard work with positive results, which will eventually promote its adaptation.
BI can be used by analyzing data to measure performance, use goals in decision-making, and predict the impact of decisions on your firm. They will empower those in your organization to make decisions based on facts, and not gut feelings. The data being collected can make intelligent decisions on markets to penetrate, and projects to pursue. It gives you an accurate view of your entire firm and has a proactive approach to decision making, which could give your firm a strategic advantage over competition. So what are you waithing for? Become more business intelligent, now!
- Become More Business Intelligent. M. Cipollone. May 28, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.di.net/articles/become-more-business-intelligent/
- Reynolds, George W. Information Technology for Managers. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2010