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9 Ways to Sharpen Your Business Intelligence

March 17, 2011 No Comments

In a time of economic turmoil, business intelligence (BI) initiatives stand out for their potential to improve corporate performance through better use of data gathering by disparate systems. Compared with many enterprise IT projects, BI requires relatively modest investments. One of the most important trends in information technology has been the emergence of a market for general-purpose business intelligence tools that can be aimed at any sort of business problem.

Investments in BI pay off the most for organizations that are serious about doing it right. They take the time to fight the political and technical battles needed to ensure the information they analyze is complete. They root out errors to make sure the analysis the tools produce is trustworthy. Most of all, they create custom views of the data for key constituencies, so that leaders from the CEO and CFO on down have immediate access to information on the trends, opportunities and threats they must address for better performance.

BI is as much about management discipline as technology. Following are nine ways companies can maximize the value of their investments in BI, according to the Gleansight benchmark report Business Intelligence (which can be downloaded for free).

1. Customize user interfaces/dashboards for specific roles. The CEO, the director of human resources and a call center manager should have different, at-a-glance summaries and graphs of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are most relevant to their responsibilities. Top Performers are keenly interested in targeting BI applications to multiple constituencies within their organizations and identifying the metrics that will help them do their jobs better.

2. Integrate data across departments and applications. Particularly in large organizations, it’s common to have several different BI tools used by different departments. Attempts to reconcile these disparities are often frustrated when the enterprise acquires another company that has adopted yet another BI toolset. In such cases, to expect absolute homogeneity may be unrealistic. Still, the more consistent the BI platform, the better. The more that data extracted from different systems can be reconciled and rolled up into common data warehouses and data marts, the easier it is to do cross-functional and cross-departmental analysis. The more that users can obtain all the data they need from a common portal or dashboard, the lower the training required before they can use the BI platform productively.

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