1. The Business Intelligence Challenge
Organisations oten suer because they pay too muchattention to vendors who sell BI as a cure-all or unspeciedills. In airness, the vendor’s job is, ater all, to sell as muchconsultancy as they can (or as much as is asked or). However,a vendor can
know our organisation the way that wedo, hence the need to identiy the desired outcomes o a BIinitiative internally
engaging with vendors. However,this requires a common vision within the organisation as to what business intelligence actually
and what it can(or won’t) be used or.Let’s begin by understanding some terms. A “closed-ended”tool is one that perorms only one unction. A cookie cutter isa good example, as there’s really only one thing we can do with it. Many organisations buy BI solutions as i they weresimilarly closed-ended—a “x” or a problem that is otenunstated. Their opposite—“open-ended” tools—are morefexible. They are like a saw, which can cut trees but can alsobe used to make urniture, build a house or even be played asan instrument.Treating BI solutions as closed-ended tools leads to impreci-sion about what we want BI or. BI is an open-ended tool thatrequires the denition o needs and objectives beore we buy into a solution. And be aware: i the guy we’ve put in chargeo doing that assessment works or the business that sells asolution, I believe you can guess with some degree o certainty which solution we’re going to get.In short, early on in the process o selecting a BI solution, weneed to analyse the useulness o BI to our organisation and what outcomes we expect rom our investment.
2. Defning Business Intelligence Needs
So what must be considered rst? The perceptive managerneeds to ask questions about BI:
in support o the BI solution?
Outside the organisation?
the benet or 20% o the investment?
As these questions are being addressed, it’s critical to startbuilding a cross-discipline team in the areas o businessanalysis, project management, IT and the wider businesscommunity as their involvement will be crucial to the process.
2.1. What Data is Needed?
BI consists o both enabling and acilitating technologies.Enabling technologies are technologies that generate the datathat BI “consumes”. Examples o enabling technologies are:
Applications used by large organisations to manageinventory, resources and business processes acrossall departments in the enterprise.
Systems that streamline stock control and ordering systems through bar-code scanning and allow theautomatic processing o credit card paymentsor goods.
Inventory data stored on a tag transmitted via radio.Oten used to track buying habits, this technology is leading to an explosion in the sheer volume o data due to the possibility o all tags being uniquerather than generic.Businesses oten ocus solely on these types o enabling technology to provide data or their BI initiatives. This datais both structured and
to our business—in short,the data we already have easy access to. Many organisationsonly analyse structured and internal data. But there are othertypes o data, too. For example,
reers todata we have access to but haven’t systematised, such ase-mails, project plans and the inormation stored away inling cabinets. On the other hand,
reers to data we don’t possess but need to know about, like competitorinormation, published comments and share-price graphs. According to IDC/Teradata
, 55% o the inormation thatdecision makers currently deal with or decision making isunstructured and external. This is why users o BI systemscomplain about “missing data”. Alastair Sim o SAS puts itbest: “
Organisations are not using BI to drive the decision making that will allow them to grow and innovate because they are not seeing structured and unstructured data as a single source”.
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Business Intelligence Programme
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