In a business environment with rapidly changing information needs, how can your business intelligence (BI) solution keep up?
In today’s fast-paced world, commercial and public organizations find themselves forced to adapt to both internal and external pressures and changing requirements. Information Technology is often utilized to adapt to the new informational needs of the business. The success of an IT solution is ultimately determined by the solution’s flexibility in adjusting to the evolving needs of the enterprise. At Qlarion, we believe this is especially true of business intelligence (BI) projects, which enable organizations to convert large volumes of data into actionable insights. We emphasize the “business” aspect of BI by first helping to clarify and prioritize the business and operational goals that the BI technology and solution must support. However, what happens when an organization’s informational needs shift after a BI solution has gone live, or even in the middle of the implementation? Essentially, how should a BI project team plan to adapt to changing organizational needs?
It is important to recognize that changing user and organization needs are inevitable, especially in today’s world of hyper-competition, eroding business models and budget austerity. Information-hungry users seem to always be uncovering new problems requiring more and more information to solve. In August 2010, Eric Schmidt, then CEO of Google, stated that we are now creating as much information every two days as we did from the dawn of civilization through 2003, something akin to five exabytes (five billion gigabytes) of data. Organizations’ understanding of BI and BI tools also evolve over time as they fine tune system performance and revise reports and dashboards based upon the seemingly fickle needs of the user community.
What is really happening to cause these changes? Typically, your organization’s understanding of BI and the BI tools being utilized is maturing. This is exhibited in three stages:
1. What you THINK you need.
2. What you REALLY need.
3. What you now WANT based upon the capabilities of your BI tools.
Tackling these evolutionary stages requires an iterative approach to BI development with roll-outs in successive waves. We recommend starting with a strategic vision of what you want in your enterprise business intelligence system, but focusing on high value areas to score some quick wins and establish credibility for your solution rather than trying to deliver everything your users THINK they need at once. If users have any doubts as to the accuracy of the data in your BI system relative to the source, you need to be able to address these concerns quickly or it will ultimately require significant time and effort to win back their trust. An iterative approach will also save your support team from being inundated with help requests for the new BI system.
Share your vision for the enterprise BI system with the users and show them a roadmap for content to be covered in subsequent rollouts. Above all, you should expect the unexpected. User expectations and demands – the foundation of your project – will change and evolve! Carefully managing user expectations from the outset will ensure continued support from the user community and will be crucial to the success of your BI initiative.