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“Business Intelligence” sounds like a fantastic idea in theory. It sounds important and strategic. Too often however, in practice, the strategy is lacking, and the intelligence is lost in gigabytes of irrelevant data. It’s unfortunate, because business intelligence (BI) and sound financial planning have made an impact throughout the world, in both developing countries and industrialized nations.
Some key areas of strategic breakdown, and ways to repair the breach, have been isolated by analysts, and are easy to define (if less easy to rectify).
Responsibility and communication. Although most companies agree that business intelligence is critical for their operations, and most use it in various departments, nearly all use the information gathered in isolated departments, offices, or agencies, with little or no cross-departmental sharing. To make matters worse, IT often falls prey to the “latest craze” disease, and one department will get a new program with little consideration for its compatibility or effectiveness for another.
The cure is for departments, IT, and CIOs and other decision makers to consider very carefully what is needed by all departments, whether a new purchase is even warranted, and what effect is desired from the information being collected. Cross-departmental intelligence trading is absolutely vital in all aspects of both purchase and usage of any business intelligence software.
Nearly every company quizzed in a recent survey replied that they used some form of business intelligence. Shockingly, fewer than 2% had any actual strategy for its collection and use. This was true for businesses in industrial nations with long histories of BI usage, and developing countries and NGOs. Outlines and plans even for collecting data were lacking.
Companies using BI must take the time to outline all goals for their business intelligence, not only the tech involved, but the organizational and business aspects, collection and use of data, projected impact, and so on. This is not something that can be left to the IT department, or to any single department. All areas of the company need to be involved, so that the strategy can be a true corporate plan.
To use business intelligence in a practical and intelligent fashion, companies need to look beyond the tech and software, and determine what they are collecting, and why they are collecting it. After that, the intelligence can be put to good use.
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