Keys to Business Intelligence

Five key insights from business intelligence expert David Loshin

In a recent interview, David Loshin, president of business intelligence consultancy Knowledge Integrity, Inc., Business  Intelligence Implementation named five key things organizations can do to promoteĀ business intelligence success:

  • Design configurable business intelligence dashboards that can provide needed metrics in real time
  • Provide drill-down capabilities for metrics that are of specific concern for the business
  • Ensure agreement about performance goals and targets throughout the organization
  • Create a cultural understanding of how metrics should be used
  • Experiment with different analyses to determine which ones can provide business value

Design configurable business intelligence dashboards that can provide needed metrics in real time

According to Loshin, the key goal of any business intelligence program should be to provide performance metrics in a way that is informative, but not intrusive. In other words, business intelligence dashboards need to be highly configurable in order to make sure that business users are getting access to the exact data they need, without falling victim to data paralysis caused by having to sift through all the data they don’t need.

In addition, business intelligence dashboards need to be able to provide updates in real time, in order to ensure that business users are making decisions based on the most current view of metrics.

Provide drill-down capabilities for metrics that are of specific concern for the business

Every organization wants different insights from their business intelligence solutions. As a result, business intelligence dashboards should not be one-size-fits-all in the insights they provide.

If an organization knows in advance that a specific metric could be particularly helpful for their business, they should plan ahead to make sure their BI dashboard includes drill-down capabilities for that metric, so that they will be able to get a deeper level of insight when the need arises.

Ensure agreement about performance goals and targets throughout the organization

What are the most important insights that can be gained from a business intelligence solution? For some organizations, it’s figuring out the best way to generate new revenue. For others, it may be reducing costs or mitigating risks.

Either way, it’s important that all key stakeholders understand the values that matter most to the business, and know how BI metrics will be used to help meet those performance goals and targets.

Create a cultural understanding of how metrics should be used

An efficient business intelligence solution should allow individuals to take independent action, but there should also be an organization-wide understanding of how each individual is expected to use the insights provided by the BI solution.

C-level executives set the standard for what data is important to monitor, but they won’t be the ones actually drilling down into the data. As a result, it’s important that all business users have an understanding of how BI can help improve their decision-making.

Experiment with different analyses to determine which ones can provide business value

Business intelligence is most likely to be successful when it has executive support, but executives will probably only provide support for programs that have demonstrated value in the past. Loshin compares this situation to a chicken/egg problem: business users need executive support to implement quality BI solutions, but they often need to prove the value of business intelligence solutions before they can get executive support.

To overcome this problem, Loshin recommends undertaking a series of short experiments to find which BI analyses can provide business value, while weeding out the ones that can’t. It’s quite likely that many of the tested analyses won’t prove valuable, but the ones that do should provide sufficient return to make the experimentation worthwhile.

For more, read this post on the ROI for business intelligence