Best Practices for Successful Business Intelligence


There is no doubt that large corporations and multinationals understand the high importance of business intelligence (BI) in supporting their activities and management plans. Business intelligence, a term that encompass a wide variety of software applications used to analyze a company’s data, includes several disciplines, such as online analytical processing, data mining, reporting and querying.

Due to technological advancements, companies can now use business intelligence in their advantage by capitalizing on the easy-to-use and reliable software tools available to them. Whether it’s improving customer service, optimizing processes, increasing the accuracy of marketing activities, seeking unique ways to get ahead of the competition or storming new markets, companies recognize that using BI at its full potential is prerequisite to business success. In order to deliver successful BI projects, you need to use some practices that can make the whole difference for your company. Here are the best 7 practices for successful business intelligence.

1. Get the Whole Business Involved.

Even though this might sound weird, many BI projects fail either at an early stage or at the final stage due to a lack of involvement from the company. A BI project means more than just having a good business sponsor and setting some requirements. Instead, a successful BI project is when all the processes and relations are in place and the collaboration between business executives is smooth.

2. Quantify Stakeholders’ Objectives

Your stakeholders are sponsors, business unit directors, managerial staff and line managers directly involved in the BI process. Each stakeholder might have distinct objectives, so it is wise to call a brainstorm meeting and assess each of these objectives. Even though not all objectives might be in line with the final goal, all should be voiced and considered, at some degree.

3. Dedicate Enough Resources

In order to make sure the BI process goes by the book, you need to ensure that you have enough resources. These resources could include time, money, IT personnel, business staff, and the list goes on.

4. Choose the Right Development Methodology

Even the best planned BI strategy will not be able to achieve the desired results if the development methodology used is not suitable to deliver a BI initiative. In order to maximize your chances of success, you should use agile methods. Agility in this case means taking an itinerary approach. In other words, you should break all the elements of your BI projects into small chunks, exposing challenges and opportunities.

5. Choose the Right Tools for the Job

This is where you need to get smart, as choosing the wrong tools might lead to failure. You need to use certain software technology enablers that can allow you to transform raw data into precious business insights. A BI platform generally includes tools that extract, transform and integrate data, though it would be better if done by MDM, ETL and OLAP tools. Additionally, it includes data visualization tools such as graphs engine, scorecards and dashboards which permit reporting, query and interactive analysis.

There are a wide variety of BI tools available. Some of the most common choices you have are:

– Open source BI software: if your BI requires customization or you need extended control, an open source tool is the best choice for you. This options is also a very good choice for ISV (independent software vendors) seeking to capitalize on a BI solution and embed it into their software products. Top open source solutions are available from vendors such as Openi, Pentaho, BEE, Cignex, Actuate, Talend and SpagoBI.

– Traditional, on-premise BI software: some of the best traditional enterprise BI solutions come from Oracle (OBIEE, Hyperion Essbase, Hyperion Financial Reports, Publisher, and Oracle SmartView), IBM (Unica, Cognos and SPSS), SAP (Crystal Reports, Business Objects), Microsoft, Tibco, Panorama Software, QlikView, SAS and Tableau. Of course, Oracle is recommended as it is targeted as an Enterprise BI Solution. To be precise, OBIEE together with Hyperion Essbase, BITeamwork and Dodeca would definitely be the best combination you can have. As for it’s ETL tool, Informatica or ODI and GoldenGate is recommended.

– Software as a service (SaaS): consider this option when IT resources are at a minimum and your business requirements are well-defined. Some of the analytics vendors available as SaaS include Birst, Angoss, Cloud9, GoodData, Coremetrics, Oco and PivotLink.

6. Choose a Strong Governance Foundation

When it comes to creating successful BI strategies, there are two aspects related to governance foundation: the governance of the BI deployment process and data governance. In order to gain a strong lead in your niche and capitalize on competitive advantage, you need to first understand what data is available to you from both external and internal sources. Moreover, you need to know how to define each data item and what rules to use in order to capture, store and analyze such data. You also need to understand that BI governance covers processes and rules pertaining to ownership, report creation, distribution and usage.

7. Raise the Bar

The last step in designing a successful BI strategy is to include additional follow-up initiatives in your plan. Some of these may include:

– Implement alert notification: these will give you the opportunity to fix any performance deviations that may appear before they get out of hand.

– Tailor data visualization by roles: experiment with your dashboard in order to find new methods to assess data.

– Leverage the portability factor: make sure you tailor your strategy after your potential mobile customers.

– Implement strong training and coaching programs.

The Bottom Line 

BI solutions are increasingly popular among both small and large corporates, as they can help companies thrive in their niches by leveraging the power of real-time data and information. Use the tips above and you will definitely acquire business intelligence success.



Author: Steve Yeung

Being in the EPM & BI field for more than 8 years, it's about time I contribute to newcomers! As a founder of I wish to give you all the help I can. Feel free to give any suggestions or questions. Hope you will all enjoy this blog! William Wong Essbase Certified Specialist OBIEE Certified Specialist

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