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BIprimer

Keys to a successful business


transactions. Understanding who will use Bl
and for what purposes can show the type of in-
formation needed and its frequency, and help
guide Bl decision-making.

intelligence strategy 6 Decide whether to buy or build the an-


alytical data model. One size does not fit
Ten steps to get you started on the road to Bl all. In general you may benefit from an out-of-
By Diann Daniel, CIO.com the-box, industry-specific data model
^ -^ if you have a more homogeneous
environmentsuch as one

W
ith all the mergers and acquisitions mart, since it's quick ERP, one CRM system. More
in the business intelligence (Bl) and cheap, but con- complex enterprises may
space, it's easy to forget that Bl is sider that this tactic benefit from customiza-
about much more than the technology that's means additional tion, although you may
behind it. You need to establish your vision for silos will need to still want to consider
your business intelligence strategy before you be created as ad- beginning with an in-
bring technology into the conversation, says ditional data stor- dustry-standard model
Boris Evelson, a Forrester Research analyst. age needs arise, as a template or a set of
Here's how. which can grow guides.
out of control
-i Choose a C-level sponsor (who's not within a few years. reconsider all Bl
X t h e CIO). Bl implementations should not Something else to I components. Com-
be sponsored by anyone in IT, says Evelson. consider is whether ponents that affect the suc-
Instead, Bl should be sponsored by an execu- to build and maintain cess of business intelligence
tive who has bottom-line responsibility; has a physical data ware- implementations include: meta-
a broad picture of the enterprise objectives, house or go with the virtu- data, data integration, data quality,
strategy and goals; and knows how to translate al, so-called "semantic" layers data modeling, analytics, centralized
the company mission into key performance in- metrics management, presentations (reports
dicators that will support that mission. This ex- and dashboards), portals, collaboration, knowl-
ecutive is often the CFO. This sponsor should edge management and master data management
govern the implementation with a documented Bl should be sponsored Be sure to define the architecture for aU layers of
business case and be responsible for changes the business intelligence stack; even though they
in scope. by an executive wbo bas may not be part of the Bl strategy itself, they will
bottom-line responsibility effect the success of implementation.
O Create common definitions. Without
^ c o m m o n definitions, a Bl implementation
cannot succeed. To combat this problem, get
subject matter expertise throughout lines of to link operational systems. Traditional data
8 Choose a systems integrator. Bl imple-
mentations require guidance from a part-
ner who has deep experience. Evelson says
business from front-, middle- and back-office warehousing means duplicating data, which be prepared to spend US$5-$7 on services for
staff. At this stage, IT's participation should be means bringing in operations systems in real every $1 on software, and cautions against
limited to running the project management of- time will be next to impossible. You can save outsourcing the fine-tuning of business intel-
fice and taking ownership of compliance and space with an abstract definition layer, but this ligence. The process requires a high degree of
business standards and policies. Secondly, is difficult to design, as is any metadata reposi- collaboration among end-users, analysts and
start small and choose only 10 to 20 key per- tory. Before even considering which vendors developers.
formance indicators and create standards and to choose, you must resolve this issue.
governance with them in mind.

O Assess the current situation. You


P~ Understand what users need. The three
Cx broad classes of business intelligence users
9 Think "actionable" and "baby steps."
Choose an end-user, business analyst and de-
veloper to create a first proof-of-concept within
O should analyze the current business intelli- are strategic, tactical and operational. Strate- a few days. Choose a few key performance indi-
gence stack and processes and organizational gic users make few decisions, but each is cru- cators and build a few reports, then add new re-
structures surrounding current Bl implemen- cialfor example, should we shift operations leases every few weeks.
tations. Evelson points out that a full "Bl di- from Europe to China? Tactical users make
agnostic" from Accenture contains 1,500 ques- many decisions a week, use both aggregate | /^Choose low-hanging fruit to start Ev-
tions against 325 best practices and 75 subject and detail-level information, and likely need J . v/elson recommends choosing high-value,
areas. updated information daily. Operational users simple components to begin. For example, a
are front-line employees like call-center staff. sales analytics data mart may present high-value
A Create a plan for data storage. Many They need data within their own set of appli- targets that also have plenty of existing models
A organizations begin with an isolated data cations to execute the enormous numbers of and best practices. ^

www.cw.com.hk November 2007 Computerworld Hong Kong 31