5 Secrets to Success With Business Intelligence

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Business intelligence. It’s helping enterprises decrypt the meaning contained in the terabytes of data that live in different business systems and countless spreadsheets—and translate that data to actionable insights.

Organizations that have figured out how to successfully harness business intelligence (BI) gain deep insight into their business’s performance throughout the business cycle. More importantly, they’re able to analyze, make decisions, and act on that insight to create a more agile, responsive organization

While these companies seem to have cracked the code, you may be wondering where to even begin. It turns out that companies that achieve BI success follow five common best practices, according to the Dresner Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence Market Study, a landmark survey of 1,200 IT and business professionals.

We’re sharing these secrets with you in the hopes that it will help you launch and drive a successful BI program at your organization.

1. Drive BI as a strategic initiative at the highest levels of the organization

Without executive buy-in and endorsement, your BI project won’t succeed. In fact, 90% of the organizations Dresner surveyed said that when BI initiatives were successful, it was because senior management viewed BI as a critical contributor to improving company performance.

So start at the top: Become a BI change agent in the C-suite. Once company leaders see BI as an essential tool for strategic decision-making, it’s there to stay.

2. Unify data into a single source for analysis, planning, reporting, and decision-making

Companies that are successful with BI insist on creating a single source of data from across the enterprise, so they can be confident their data is the “truth.” These companies are successful with BI at about 10 times the rate of those that rely on multiple, inconsistent sources.

It’s critical that you find a BI solution that lets both business and IT users extract, blend, and prepare data from different sources—including spreadsheets, databases, and other key business systems—into a unified, reliable analysis.

3. Enable stakeholders to take action on BI insights for true closed-loop performance management

Success with BI corresponds strongly to an organization’s ability to act on the insights it gets from data and analytics. More than 85% of the organizations that are successful with BI use “closed-loop” processes that ensure timely, concerted action.

Your BI solution should allow you not only to view and analyze performance and KPIs for vital intelligence, but also to apply those insights in order to address gaps and opportunities and adjust plans, budgets, and forecasts accordingly—and then review the results of those adjustments through a performance lens every week, month or quarter, rather than depending on a once-a-year budgeting process.

4. Empower self-service analytics

For most business users, extracting information from their BI system and creating a report means an IT request and a long wait—or a programming degree. That’s probably why more than 90% of the respondents in the Dresner study ranked dashboards and end-user self-service as the most important technologies for a BI initiative.

So don’t keep valuable insights locked away from business users. Choose a BI solution that allows executives, finance, and line-of-business managers to self-serve, access, explore, and engage in interactive analysis with drillable dashboard. They should be able to drill down into details, perform simple multi-dimensional analysis  and answer questions on their own, when they need it, without requiring IT or operational support to create new dashboards or reports every time

5. Prioritize cloud and support for multiple devices alongside BI

To detect and solve issues quickly, business users need access to KPIs and analytics for optimization no matter where they are or what time it is. More than 90% of the companies surveyed by Dresner consider support for multiple devices to be an important technology for BI initiatives.

Most of the companies surveyed also view software as a service and cloud computing as technologies that offer a strategic BI advantage—in part because employees worldwide can access the system 24/7.

The bottom line: For your BI initiative, search out solutions that are built for the cloud, not just converted to the cloud, making dashboards and analytics accessible anytime, anywhere, for any decision-maker when they need them.

Dashboards are critical to a successful BI initiative: Watch our webcast “Improve Your Dashboard and Reporting Process” for more best practices.

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