How Does BI Strategy Help CIOs Make the Right Business Decisions?
3 Minutes Read
When implemented properly, business intelligence (BI) can act as a proverbial magic looking glass into key elements of your organization. Having a fuller picture of everything from customers to your supply chain and operational challenges empowers business leaders to cut out the guess work and make informed decisions.
According to highly admired business strategy guru Michael Porter, “the essence of strategy is competitive advantage.” In today’s data-driven market, CIO’s have a crucial role to play in helping their organization maintain competitive advantage, and they can do so with a meaningful and effective business intelligence (BI) strategy.
How can CIOs implement a decision-driven BI strategy?
When designing a BI strategy, everything should be viewed from the perspective of decision making. Asking key questions such as who needs this information to make decisions, what information is most helpful to those people, and how they will access the data they need when they need it is key. Here are 5 tips for CIOs to implement a successful business intelligence strategy:
1. Take a Business First, Data Next Approach A BI program is only successful if the information it provides is relevant and delivered in a timely manner to key decision makers. Before you start your BI project, sit down with the business leaders in your organization and ask them two questions: 1- what kind of decisions would you like to be able to make, and 2- what information would you need in order to make those decisions?
A “build it first and they will come” approach does not work for BI. Instead of building a repository of data and layering BI on top of it and hoping for the best, try working your way backwards from business needs to the data that addresses them. This will give you a starting point for designing your program in a way that connects the end-user to meaningful data.
2. Put Business in Charge of BI IT of course needs to take ownership of the technical setup of a BI project, but once the program is up and running, ownership should be passed to business leaders. If IT holds on to the program it can slow down the delivery of crucial information, as many teams don’t have time to wait for reports to be generated before taking action. Today’s BI tools and dashboards are intuitive enough that if they are properly designed from the outset, non-IT users can easily navigate them to access data.
Giving business ownership of your BI program also has the added benefit of creating demonstrable value on a daily basis, which helps with buy-in and gaining c-suite level support.
3. Act as Support & Monitor BI Use Although business should be the primary users of your BI program, IT still has the very important role of monitoring use and making sure that things are running smoothly. From an IT perspective, CIOs have insights into which business unit is using the BI platform, what data is frequently accessed, and when new users are added.
With this information, CIOs can watch for BI usage trends and assess whether the application needs to be expanded or requires additional governance or funding.
4. Continually Validate and Improve In order for your BI data to be useful, it is imperative that it be correct and up to date. CIOs must continually validate the data that is provided by BI programs to ensure that no inaccurate or misleading information is provided. In order to do this, start small with a few pieces BI capabilities that you can regularly check and verify, then build up from there. Nothing can kill support for your project like someone having reason to doubt the data it provides. Validation is critical to ensure that your data actually provides the insights you promised it would.
As you monitor and validate your data, you should also always be thinking one step ahead in terms of where your program could be improved or expanded upon. Listen to the feedback of your business leaders to have a feel for what demands might be on the horizon and anticipate the need in order to head off growing and scaling delays.
5. Empower Users to Connect the Dots Not everyone is a data scientist, and many non-IT workers need a bit of assistance learning how to connect the dots in a data set to derive actionable insights. Help your team and users understand how data can work for them—not only to create beautiful visuals for meetings, but to paint a full picture of the customer journey, supply chain logistics, day-to-day operational challenges, etc. Empowering workers to spot trends and draw conclusions from your BI program will increase the overall quality of output from a variety of teams and build more support for your efforts going forward.
Taking a decision-driven approach to your BI strategy helps generate enormous value. By starting with basic questions about what information business leaders need and then working backwards from there, CIOs can ensure that the right data is getting to the right decision-makers, solidifying buy-in and support for a BI program.