According Gartner, BI is for more than a decade the number one priority of the IT priorities and investments where “Sixty-four percent of CIOs at top-performing organizations are very or extremely involved in their enterprise’s BI/analytics activities”.
The other survey from BARC reveals top challenges the companies facing during the implementation, maintaining or developing and upgrading their BI systems.
Many companies are using Business Intelligence in their daily decission proccess for years, some even decades, and are now on different levels of analytics maturity and self-service BI maturity according TDWI.
It is quite common that organizations already face one or more of issues related to:
It is therefore very important for organizations to consider consolidating BI, reporting and communication standards otherwise they are exposed to negative impact on business judgment due to inconsistent information and much higher total cost of ownership (TCO) for BI tools than it is necessary.
There are several warning indicators signalling that your company is also one of the many using multiple business intelligence (BI) tools for reporting and analysis throughout your enterprise that are more or less obvious.
The “Red flags” include:
If you are experiencing any of these red flags, then you should conduct a BI (reporting and analytics) survey of your enterprise or a more formal BI assessment. In fact, you should do this even if you do not think you have any of above red flags. Chances are you do any you will find them during assessment. Often, because BI projects has been implemented in a tactical fashion in different departments or because applications have bundled BI tools, these problems are hidden from the enterprise view. You may be surprised at the number of them.
In order to determine what is the health of your BI system, start with your corporate IT group. They will have a list, and may actually be the support team, for a block of BI reporting and analysis. It is also likely that they are aware of some of the red flags because they were asked at one time or another to provide data or assistance for various departmental BI related problems.
However, do not rely solely on the corporate IT group, but reach out to the various business organizational groups or business processes to discover what is their experience with reporting and analysis. If they are using various applications, determine how businesspeople get their reporting or analysis done. Go beyond traditional BI tools, and figure out where the data shadow systems are, who uses them and what information is processed.
The best practice is to assess the impact of each BI application. This assessment needs to include:
On the corporate level the matrix of all overlapping reports and applications should be prepared.
Once you have completed an enterprise BI survey, you are in a position to understand the extent, effectiveness, costs and benefits associated with each pocket of BI tool usage. You need to treat the BI applications as an entire BI portfolio to honestly appraise your results from an enterprise perspective.
An examination of the BI portfolio will help determine what is worthy of consideration and what should be left alone. Most corporations do not have the resources or time to migrate all applications to one standard BI platform, so it’s worth weeding out those applications that are not significant enough to demand further attention. Applications with only a small set of users that do not change much or do not support an “important” business process may be left as legacy applications.
After the preliminary selection, consider the remaining BI applications part of your enterprise BI portfolio and review them in further detail to determine the transition or migration costs. Calculate the enterprise TCO and migration costs to determine the viability and ROI from a BI consolidation project. Although it’s difficult to quantify, it’s essential that the cost/benefit impacts of data consistency, business/IT productivity and governmental/industry compliance be a part of these calculations.
A high-level plan of action for BI consolidation:
Limited success will be achieved if old BI tools will be just replaced with new one. It is equally important to reduce the number of reports and implement communications standards at the same time.
The number of reports can be efficently and effectively reduced with promoting analytical applications, condesed dashboards and mobile applications developed for analyzing individual business areas or departments. Such approach will reduce the number of required reports from 10-50 times and on the other hand make the information much more useful in daly decision processess.
Developing new analytical applications and reporting is ideal opportunity to apply business communications standards to enhance business value of the solution and to streamline understanding od the analyzed data and make better business deceisions. Several standards for business communications are available, but most comprehensive one is IBCS® (The International Business Communication Standards) developed by Dr. Rolf Hichert.
IBCS are practical proposals for the design of reports, presentations, dashboards and the diagrams and tables contained therein. This involves the conception of the content, the visual perception and the semantic unification.
The IBCS is comprised of three pillars:
And of course, it is the execution that’s the tough part, not formulating the plan. Technology is easy — people make it hard.
It would be great to say that BI consolidation can be done quickly and easily and everyone will be happy, but that is not the case. There are ample reasons to embark on a BI consolidation program, but organizations that do so will face cultural and political obstacles. Moving from the “Wild West” of BI tool silos to a rationalized BI portfolio requires compromise and change, but the overall benefits to the enterprise must be the primary business driver.
Join us on the event on March 20, 2018 in Ljubljana, where all above topics will be discussed.