In my first blog on business intelligence, "Business Intelligence: A Strategy-based Initiative," I stipulated that every company needs a clear set of goals and objectives to achieve maximum benefits for its business intelligence (BI) strategy.
In the follow-up piece, "Successful BI Deployments Have These Elements," I related the critical elements necessary for successful BI deployment.
In this blog, I intend to identify and discuss the overarching benefits derived from successful Strategic BI implementation.
Larry Ellison of Oracle has said of Strategic Business Intelligence that the best run businesses run better with business intelligence. Without BI, a company runs the risk of making critical decisions based on insufficient or inaccurate information. Making decisions based on "gut feel" will not get the job done!
BI, when well-conceived and properly implemented, allows all users to make informed choices and decisions every time, in every situation. Additionally, information gleaned from a competent BI installation makes employees more productive, suppliers more efficient, and customers more loyal.
Now that I have made my case, on to the details: the articulated benefits of successfully implementing Strategic BI follow.
Whether tracking customer buying habits, inventory turns, or other sales and/or operational parameters, any and all of these areas are more readily evaluated and employed in the business decision-making process when coherent and consistent BI tools are available.
As it turns out, the graphical nature of most BI toolkits consistently and dramatically provide for easy access and demand attention to the most useful trends. Indeed, the very nature of the BI toolkit gives rise to a dynamic and readily identified representation of the most pertinent trend data.2. Empowered Staff Using Timely, Meaningful Information and Trend Reports
The dynamic nature of the BI toolkit propagates a more highly informed management staff, making more highly informed and empowered decisions. If proper care is taken during the design and deployment phase, these valuable decision-making tools will be available to all levels of the organization.
Put succinctly, the very nature of strategic BI toolkits will empower managers at all levels to focus on only the most timely and critical data.3. Easily Create In-Depth Financial, Operations, Customer, and Vendor Reports
One of the most useful inherent characteristics of a strategic BI implementation is the purposeful aggregation of company data. Because of this focused compendium of functional area information, the generation of meaningful and powerful reporting is almost automatic. In those cases where manual and specific report generation is required, the presentation of data and simple connectivity to useful tools makes report generation simplicity itself.
On-demand reporting has never been so effortless or useful.4. Efficiently View, Manipulate, Analyze, and Distribute Reports Using Many Familiar Third-Party Tools
Strategic BI systems do not require linkage or association with advanced and expensive computer software and hardware systems. Since many organizations do not have at their disposal multimillion-dollar budgets, already existing tools such as Microsoft Office, Crystal Reports, and other third-party software offerings can be readily employed, in most cases paying for the BI implementation itself.5. Extract Up-to-the-Minute High-Level Summaries, Account Groupings, or Detail Transactions
Because of the inherent, organizational features of any well-executed BI deployment, users end up with access to pertinent, focused information exactly suited to their specific needs. Additionally, the information available is custom fit to those decisions that need to be made and on a most timely basis.6. Consolidate Data from Multiple Companies, Divisions, and Databases
Consolidation and aggregation are the dual capstones of BI. They refer to the most promising and powerful aspects of BI.
As one of our most valuable customers related, "We were tired of doing our budgeting and planning the old way. Before we implemented our BI strategy, our fiscal budget took about nine months. We really needed to find other options to address the multiple spreadsheets that we had that were not consolidated and not updated. With BI in place, we did the first pass on our budget in about seven weeks."7. Minimize Manual and Repetitive Work
This becomes especially true of the administrative tasks made necessary in non-BI environments due to data disparity and nonaligned data systems.
Once in place, the BI toolkit and the synchronistic nature of the BI environment will facilitate a very different orientation to the everyday tasks of data accumulation and processing.
Today thousands of businesses in all sizes, in all industries, all around the world are implementing and utilizing Strategic Business Intelligence. We are at the beginning, a time when the business and technological advances promised by BI are still being developed, explored, and enhanced.
Robert Eugene Miller is an information technology consultant and President of Horizon Technologys (www.HorizonTks.com). Horizon provides Business Intelligence Deployment, Systems Security Assessments, and Website Development consulting services to a national clientele.