• // Business Intelligence
  • // Data Warehousing
  • // Business Analytics

Exerpt from "Seven Key Readiness Factors for BI Success"

The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.

The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him.

– Sun Tzu, The Art of War

In his treatise, The Art of War, Sun Tzu often stresses the importance of preparation and readiness as keys to military victory.  While many business people have adapted Sun Tzu’swriting to business strategy, we believe there is also a direct link between Sun Tzu’s description of preparation and readiness and developing a successful business intelligence program. While the idea of preparation and readiness may seem simple enough, many BI initiatives have failed due to lack of business-driven plans and/or lack of the right resources, skills, policies, and methods to deliver and leverage BI successfully.  In other words, the companies that failed were neither prepared nor ready – and that is a shame since the route to BI success is so well known.

BI Readiness In Context

Before we jump into the seven readiness factors, it’s important to frame these factors in the context of a business-centric approach to BI, and to make the important distinction between BI readiness and BI maturity.

A Business-Centric Approach to BI

In a traditional approach, SMEs provide input for their needs, which are often limited by a fairly narrow definition of BI’s role. In a recent survey of business users, the most common descriptions of BI was either “traditional reporting, but using newer/better technology” or an “analytical tool for analysts and power users.” Far fewer (about half as many respondents) viewed BI as a mission critical system that drives business processes and profits.  In such an environment, we find that companies have a vague sense of what value BI can provide. As a result, they develop very generic requirements that focus on the technological aspects of BI with statements such as:

  • Produce enhanced organizational capabilities to manage data and information as organizational assets.
  • Provide a single version of the truth.
  • Enable consistent and reliable access to accurate corporate-wide data.
  • Provide more sophisticated reporting and analysis, faster turnaround, improved accessibility, and enhanced quality.
  • A single touchpoint where detailed financial transaction information can be filtered on user-entered selection criteria, viewed online, downloaded in standard file formats and used to generate real-time results.

The traditional approach limits the benefits a company can derive from BI (even the most technically successful programs) because it doesn’t clearly link BI with the core business processes through which business results are achieved.

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