Business intelligence (BI) collects, stores, analyzes, and visualizes data from various sources to support decision-making and improve performance. BI can help you gain insights into your customers, competitors, markets, operations, finances, etc. BI can also help you identify opportunities, challenges, risks, and trends that affect your business.
But how do you create a successful BI strategy that aligns with your business goals and vision? How do you choose the right BI tools and platforms that suit your needs and budget? How do you ensure that your BI initiatives deliver value and ROI?
In this blog post, we will answer these questions and provide a comprehensive guide on crafting a winning BI strategy for your business. We will cover the following steps:
- Assess your current BI maturity and capabIlities
- Define your BI vision and objectives
- Identify your key stakeholders and data sources
- Choose your BI platform and tools
- Implement and manage your BI solution
- Monitor and evaluate your BI outcomes
Step 1: Assess Your Current BI Maturity and CapabIlities
Before developing your BI strategy, you need to understand where you are and where you want to go. You must assess your current BI maturity and capabIlities and identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
A BI maturity model is a framework that helps you evaluate your current BI practices and processes and determine the level of sophistication and effectiveness of your BI solution.
Various BI maturity models are accessible, including the TDWI BI Maturity Model, the Gartner BI Maturity Model, and the IBM Data and AI Maturity Model.
A BI maturity model typically consists of several stages, ranging from basic to advanced, that describe the characteristics and capabIlities of your BI solution. For example, the Gartner BI Maturity Model has five steps:
Level 1: Unaware
You need a formal BI solution or strategy and rely on manual processes and spreadsheets to collect and analyze data. You need more data quality and governance and low data literacy and trust.
Level 2: Opportunistic
You have some BI tools and applications that need to be integrated or standardized. You have siloed data and analytics and inconsistent data definitions and metrics.
You have some data quality and governance, but they must be enforced or monitored. You have low to moderate data literacy and trust.
Level 3: Standards
You have a centralized BI solution and strategy and use a typical data warehouse and BI platform. You have integrated and consistent data and analytics and defined data definitions and metrics.
You have formal data quality and governance and moderate to high data literacy and trust.
Level 4: Enterprise
You have a distributed BI solution and strategy and use a hybrid data architecture and BI platform.
You have flexible, scalable data analytics and aligned data definitions and metrics. You have adaptive data quality and governance and high data literacy and trust.
Level 5: Transformative
You have a pervasive BI solution and strategy and use a cloud-native data architecture and BI platform.
You have agile and innovative data, analytics, and dynamic data definitions and metrics. You have proactive data quality, governance, and high data literacy and trust.
By assessing your current BI maturity level, you can identify the gaps and areas for improvement and set realistic and achievable goals for your BI strategy. You can also benchmark your BI maturity against your competitors and industry standards and identify the best practices and trends you can adopt or adapt.
Step 2: Define Your BI Vision and Objectives
After evaluating your existing BI maturity and capabIlities, it's essential to articulate your BI vision and objectives. Your BI vision is a declaration delineating the desired state and trajectory of your BI solution. Meanwhile, your BI objectives encompass specific and measurable outcomes you aim to accomplish with your BI solution.
Your BI vision and objectives should align with your business goals and vision, and reflect the needs and expectations of your key stakeholders. You should also consider the external and internal factors that may affect your BI solution, such as the market conditions, customer demands, regulatory requirements, organizational culture, and available resources.
To define your BI vision and objectives, you can use the SMART framework, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, a SMART BI vision could be:
- To evolve into an organization driven by data, utilizing business intelligence to streamline operations, elevate customer experiences, and gain a competitive edge.
A SMART BI objective could be:
- To increase the adoption rate of BI tools and applications among employees by 50% by the end of the year.
Step 3: Identify Your Key Stakeholders and Data Sources
The next step in crafting your BI strategy is identifying your key stakeholders and data sources. Your key stakeholders are those who have an interest or influence in your BI solution, such as your executives, managers, analysts, customers, partners, and suppliers.
Your data sources are the systems and applications that generate and store the data you need for your BI solution, such as your ERP, CRM, SCM, HRM, and social media.
You need to identify your key stakeholders and data sources because they will determine your BI solution's scope, requirements, and priorities. You need to understand who your BI users are, their roles and responsibIlities, their data needs and expectations, and how they will use and benefit from your BI solution.
You also need to understand what data you have, where it is located, how it is structured, how it is updated, and how it is quality and security.
You can use various methods, such as interviews, surveys, workshops, focus groups, and data audits, to identify your key stakeholders and data sources. You can also use tools like stakeholder maps, data maps, data dictionaries, and data catalogs to document and visualize your findings.
Step 4: Choose Your BI Platform and Tools
After you have identified your key stakeholders and data sources, you need to choose your BI platform and tools. Your BI platform is the software that enables you to collect, store, analyze, and visualize your data.
Your BI tools are the applications that allow you to perform specific BI functions, such as data integration, data quality, data governance, data analysis, data visualization, and data collaboration.
Choosing the right BI platform and tools is crucial for the success of your BI solution, as they will determine the functionality, performance, usabIlity, scalabIlity, and security of your BI solution. You need to choose a BI platform and tools that suit your needs and budget and that can support your BI vision and objectives.
To choose your BI platform and tools, you must evaluate the features and benefits of different options and compare them against your criteria and requirements.
You can use various sources of information, such as vendor websites, product reviews, customer testimonials, case studies, demos, and trials, to conduct your research. You can also use tools, such as scorecards, checklists, and matrices, to rank and rate your options.
Some of the factors that you should consider when choosing your BI platform and tools are:
- Data access and integration. How easily and quickly can you connect to and integrate data from various sources, such as databases, files, web services, and APIs?
- Data quality and governance. How effectively and efficiently can you ensure your data's accuracy, completeness, consistency, and security and comply with the relevant standards and regulations?
- Data analysis and visualization. How powerful and flexible are the analytical and visualization capabIlities of the platform and tools, and how well can they support your data exploration, discovery, and storytelling needs?
- Data collaboration and sharing. How seamlessly and securely can you collaborate and share your data and insights with your stakeholders, and how well can you leverage your BI community's collective intelligence and feedback?
- User experience and adoption. How intuitive and user-friendly are the interface and functionality of the platform and tools, and how well can they meet the needs and expectations of different users, such as analysts, managers, and executives?
- ScalabIlity and performance. How well can the platform and tools handle large volumes and varieties of data, and how fast and reliable are they in delivering your data and insights?
- Cost and value. How much do the platform and tools cost, and what benefits and ROI can they provide for your business?
Step 5: Implement and Manage Your BI-Solution
Once you have chosen your BI platform and tools, you must implement and manage your BI solution. This is the stage where you implement your BI strategy and face the challenges and risks of executing your BI project.
You need to plan and execute your BI project systematically and structure and ensure that your BI solution meets the quality, time, and budget expectations.
To implement and manage your BI solution, you must follow a BI project management methodology, such as the Agile, Waterfall, or Hybrid approach. You must also use tools like project plans, Gantt charts, dashboards, and reports to monitor and control your BI project activities, resources, and deliverables.
Some of the steps that you need to take to implement and manage your BI solution are:
- Define the scope and requirements of your BI project and break them down into manageable tasks and milestones.
- Assign the roles and responsibIlities of your BI project team, and communicate the expectations and goals of your BI project to your stakeholders.
- Design and develop your BI solution, and test and validate its functionality, performance, usabIlity, and security.
- Deploy and launch your BI solution, and train and support your BI users on how to use and benefit from your BI solution.
- Fix any issues or bugs that may arise in your BI solution, and provide continuous improvement and enhancement to your BI solution.
Step 6: Monitor and Evaluate Your BI Outcomes
The final step in crafting your BI strategy is to monitor and evaluate your BI outcomes. This is the stage where you measure and assess the impact and value of your BI solution and where you learn and improve from your BI experience.
You need to track and report your BI performance and results and compare them against your BI objectives and expectations.
To monitor and evaluate your BI outcomes, you must use various tools, such as KPIs, metrics, indicators, and scorecards, to quantify and qualify your BI achievements and challenges. You must also use multiple methods, such as surveys, feedback, reviews, and audits, to collect and analyze your BI satisfaction and perception.
Some of the steps that you need to take to monitor and evaluate your BI outcomes are:
- Define and align your BI KPIs and metrics with your BI objectives and vision, and ensure that they are SMART, relevant, and meaningful.
- Collect and report your BI data and insights, and use data visualization and storytelling techniques to communicate your BI findings and recommendations.
- Analyze and interpret your BI data and insights, and use data-driven decision-making and action-taking to optimize your BI performance and results.
- Evaluate and review your BI data and insights, and use data quality and governance best practices to ensure the validity, reliabIlity, and credibIlity of your BI data and insights.
- Learn and improve from your BI data and insights, and use data innovation and experimentation to discover new BI opportunities and solutions.
Crafting a winning BI strategy is not an easy task, but it is a rewarding one. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can create a BI strategy that aligns with your business goals and vision and delivers value and ROI for your business.
If you need help crafting your BI strategy or want to learn more about how BI can transform your business, we’re here to help with our customized BI solutions.