You’ve deployed a BI tool. Now what? Five factors that Influence BI success

There’s a general understanding that organizations that use data as a strategic advantage perform better than those that don’t. As a result, increasingly more companies are turning to business intelligence (BI) to help shape their business strategies, improve their products and services, drive cost and process efficiencies and eliminate pain points from across their operations.

However, deploying a BI tool can be challenging. According to Gartner, an estimated 70-80% of BI projects fail. While there may not be one underlying reason for this high failure rate, there are things that companies can do to help improve the chances of BI success.

Factors to BI Success

Below are five factors that can help drive a successful BI program.

1.) Start with your culture

Not every business is prepared to embrace another enterprise software application such as a BI tool or has the right mindset to regularly consider data and analytics for strategic decision-making. Companies have always gathered information about their customers, products and markets, yet analyzing and using the data aren’t necessarily inherent, consistent or enterprise wide practices.

Building a data-driven culture that involves all company stakeholders will require changes to how people think, and potentially upgrades to the skills and behavior of your team. A Gartner report stated, “The data can only take an organization so far. The real drivers are the people.” To ensure that the BI program becomes part of the company culture, data must be accessible to everyone, and everyone should understand the value of data for their specific roles and the overall success of the business.

2.) Embrace the value of data

The emergence and dependence on technology has made every business a digital business. Data is now mass-produced across the entire enterprise, oftentimes in remote offices, disconnected departments and disparate silos. Too often, there is little consideration to the data aggregation and analysis processes, when it should be at the heart of any business planning and decision-making.

A key to a successful BI program is to consider data as a critical business asset. Once there is a commitment to using the data for strategic business decisions, the natural next steps are to put in place the appropriate tools and solutions to effectively convert raw data into actionable intelligence.

3.) Implement the right technology

Companies know that if technology is not easy to use, or mobile, then there is a good chance their employees won’t use it. Therefore selecting the right BI technology has never been more important.

Today’s tech-savvy workers are always connected, fueling an instant-gratification society that requires anytime, anywhere access. They don’t want to have to submit requests for report and then wait for an email with static, outdated spreadsheets. They want to see what is happening right now, and they want the information presented in an easy-to-understand way. While culture, quality data, executive sponsorship and engaged stakeholders play vital roles in a successful BI initiative, ultimately, the underlying technology is what will make it go.

4.) Engage the stakeholders

BI success requires that all team members are involved, from the executive sponsor responsible for the strategic direction and ongoing integration, to the sales representative who will benefit from better access into quality customer data.

A common reason for BI project failure is a lack of communications among stakeholders. In a Forrester study, BI initiatives failed because company executives and subject-matter experts were not engaged throughout the entire process. Business intelligence benefits the entire organization, and better data will lead to better decision-making. This concept is not exclusive to the executive team or even business managers. Empowering all stakeholders with access to data, and the ability to analyze the data to help them with their business roles will prove beneficial across the enterprise.

5.) Stress the analysis

Once the BI tool is in place and quality data is starting to flow from departments and resources into the central database, the next critical process for BI success is analysis.

Making business decisions based on data is a competitive advantage. Linking analytics to business outcomes can show how BI influenced revenue-generating opportunities, increased operational efficiencies and/or improved customer service. This will strengthen the business case for analytics while showing the value of the underlying data. As your single source of truth, your BI tool should facilitate a level of analysis that will eliminate doubt and wonder while uncovering what is really going on with your business.

BI and Your Bottom Line

These are just a few factors that can influence the success of your BI program. There are others, including taking action on the analysis, holding team members accountable, monitoring progress, and constantly reviewing and refining processes.

As BI becomes more engrained in your business culture, it can have a dramatic impact on how you engage your customers, create and market new products and services, and develop strategies that benefit your bottom line.

Author Bio: Paul Robertson is Head of Digital Marketing at Phocas Software. Phocas helps wholesale distributors, manufacturers and retailers discover opportunities to increase sales, reduce costs and get a better visibility into their business. Paul holds a degree in Communications and Marketing and is completing a Master of Information Systems at the University of Melbourne.

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