Business Intelligence Strategy – The BI Roadmap for Success
The world of business intelligence and analytics is entering a new hype-driven phase, and it is easy for even the most successful companies to get confused about what BI has to offer and what constitutes success. As experienced business intelligence consultants, we have seen companies of all sizes and from many industries struggle to create a compelling BI Roadmap that sorts through the hype and focuses the enterprise on a clear definition of success. We’ve also seen business leaders be unduly influenced by the siren songs of vendors whose roadmaps are geared to selling and installing products – which alone comes nowhere near any reasonable business-driven view of success. Further, we’ve seen proposals from well-known consulting firms and systems integrators whose BI roadmaps fail to put client interests ahead of their own – often pitching technical products and services that leave their clients paying large sums for the most basic of BI capabilities that offer no competitive advantage and little in the way of improved business results. In this environment, a prudent approach is to create an objective, product-agnostic BI Roadmap that is driven by ROI considerations and defined business process improvement opportunities. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the main elements of a business-driven business intelligence roadmap.
Five Main Criteria for an Effective BI Roadmap
Basically, we use a roadmap to guide a journey from a starting point to a desired destination. As part of a BI strategy project, companies identify:
- how BI and business analytics will be used by business people;
- what business processes will be changed to leverage BI and analytics to generate ROI;
- what execution gaps exist; and
- the degree of change required of business units and IT.
Armed with this information, the BI strategy team – or analytics strategy if you prefer – must then determine how to move toward a future state vision for BI use within the company. The BI Roadmap they put together serves to guide the journey to the future state. To be successful, the Roadmap must meet these criteria:
- It must address the key Workstreams necessary for BI success, which are: (a) strategy, organization, and management; (b) business intelligence and data warehousing technical execution; (c) business process improvement; (d) data governance; and (e) change management;
- It must include specific activities to overcome identified execution gaps – including gaps in technical capabilities and gaps in business units’ ability to assimilate BI into their business processes and manage change;
- It must incorporate specific communication and linking mechanisms between the business units and the BI team so that an effective partnership is formed and so the BI initiative is jointly owned;
- It must incorporate all of the technical activities and projects that must be undertaken to ensure that a cost-effective BI infrastructure is in place – including a data warehouse that supports enterprise uses of BI; and
- It must be based on sound program management, project management, process improvement, and change management fundamentals to ensure effective delivery of BI applications that are adopted by the business into business processes that favorably impact revenues, costs, or both.
More broadly, the BI Roadmap cannot be based on wishful thinking – all of the above considerations warrant hard-nosed analysis by the company’s best thinkers and experienced BI strategy professionals. BI is a complicated endeavor that should not be viewed through rose-colored glasses. A suitable BI Strategy and a pragmatic BI Roadmap can help your company on the road to BI success.