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The Better Pathway to a Successful Business Intelligence Implementation.
Like Raw Chicken, Raw Data is NOT usually good for you:
More and more companies are jumping on the Big Data, Data Analytics, Data Mining, Data Science, Data-Driven bandwagon(s). Nothing like stating the obvious, but I made reference to the first five "Data" buzzwords I hear throughout the course of any given day. Why only five? After all, there are plenty more "Data" buzzwords out there... and lets not forget "Analytics"!
The point is, that it's no secret that businesses recognize what they need to stay in business; Data! Actually it is my belief that data in an unto itself is not inherently good. Consuming raw data, much like consuming raw chicken is not all that good for you. In fact trying to consume it raw is likely to produce sick behavior at best and could lead to the death of your business.
Business Intelligence is a mind-set:
As companies go, I have consulted the whole spectrum; small start-ups to fortune 100 multi-national well established firms. I've even been exposed to a wide variety of market segments, from the tech-sector to federal to manufactured goods. So, it is fair for me to say I have seen almost every permutation of Business Intelligence implementation. So, here are a few overall sentiments I've encountered.
- Data users believe if you "just show them all the data, they'll sort it out..."
- Business data, is either not reliable, not timely, or both.
- Business Intelligence tools and applications are complicated and very difficult to use.
- IT and in particular DBA's are very protective of their data stores.
- It takes too much time!
Just like any worthwhile endeavor, implementing and using a business intelligence solution takes dedication, hard work, time, and even maybe a little pain or sacrifice. Being open to new ideas, trusting your team, and a little focus will go a long way toward a successful implementation. By no means should you take shortcuts. There is no magic wand.
Choose the right tool, and you'll achieve the maximum benefit:
I'm not sure how many times I've heard the question "can we get it in Excel?"... But it does confirm a statistic I've recently heard; "...1 in 5 businesses are using spreadsheets as the main tool to communicate data internally."[forbes] With all the inexpensive and even free Business Intelligence tools out there, why jump straight to Excel? It is my opinion that the answer is, "because it is familiar".
If you have ever wondered "...what happened to that spreadsheet with all those formulas" or "who changed the columns!?!!?? now my look-ups don't work" or "...that data doesn't look right..." you'll get a kick out of the Forbes article I've linked to in the previous paragraph. The bottom line is that for as popular, familiar, and easy as Excel is, it is NOT always easy, it is NOT always popular, and it is NOT always the fastest way to communicate your data.
Choosing Excel, just because you don't know anything else, or because you feel like it is the quickest solution to your BI and Data problem is almost always neither. In the long-run, just like crash diets, it will likely make you fatter, or in the case of data give you a bigger headache!
Choose your Business Intelligence partner wisely:
More money is wasted on failed Business Intelligence efforts than I care to admit. Most of the time the wasted money comes from a handful of reasons. One is that the company or sponsor of the project doesn't know exactly what they've signed on for and jumps at the first thing through the door. Another reason is that internal politics and protectionist attitudes in the Information Technology group, hinders true and efficient implementations. Sometimes it is because resources are more focused or familiar with IT projects than they are BI projects.
Ultimately it comes down to who you engage with, and why. To find a true Business Intelligence partner, you'll need to choose them for just as much their ability and experience in BI implementations, as well as for their ability to align with and identify with you and your business. Business Intelligence implementations are more about the BUSINESS than the TECHNOLOGY.
We at UniVant Corporation strive to do one thing for you. We strive to help you achieve a unified vantage point into your companies data. No matter the source of the data, be it inside your own systems, in the cloud, or maybe you simply want to leverage social media, we can help you. You can find out more about us here: UniVant.