What is Business Intelligence? | 5 Reasons why BI Strategies Fail


Five Reasons Business Intelligence Strategies Fail

Kelsey Davis

Published August 16, 2019

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Since the dawn of the Internet, the emergence of mobile technology, the explosion of social media, and countless other digital disruptors, information, or data, has been shared and consumed at an alarming rate. From the old belief that the Internet never lies to news organizations pushing out exclusives and breaking news without verifying accuracy, data is delivered without recognition of authenticity or repercussions.

To counteract blindly disseminating information that could be harmful or ruin an organization’s reputation for its shoddiness, one of the most prevalent solutions has been Business Intelligence (BI).

However, before implementing a BI strategy, it’s crucial to understand why almost 80 percent of business intelligence initiatives fail. By exploring the shortfalls many BI strategies experience, you can better position your organization for success.

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What Is Business Intelligence? 

In a nutshell, business intelligence leverages technologies and services to gather, analyze, interpret, and transform data into intelligent decision making using a streamlined approach that synthesizes all the information collected and presents it in easy-to-understand formats. BI tools, often referred to as data analytics, can provide incredibly deep and powerful insights into your business and organization, successfully predict trends and events, and use reporting functionality to serve as a guide for further action. 

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However, just like all information isn’t completely foolproof, certain BI strategies can be faulty as well. The proof of concept lies on the organization to effectively implement, manage, and scale BI objectives while paying attention to commonly made mistakes.

Business Intelligence Strategies

Mistake 1: Lack Of Support

Tech juggernauts can spit out information faster than humanly possible, literally. But just because we have access to an overwhelming amount of information doesn’t mean we know how to properly use it. 

So while you might have multiple data warehouses stock full of knowledge, unless that knowledge is vetted and employees in your organization receive guidance on how to strategically apply the data to various business endeavors, it is all worthless.

Executive leadership, or those in charge of tech decisions, need to base their initiatives around relevant metrics. If your company has a CIO, or someone thoroughly invested in the information technology setting, let them serve as an influence during the selection, implementation, and management of project metrics on BI solutions, in addition to welcoming their input on appropriate software and tracking tools.

Lack of support extends beyond the executive level. It’s also routinely seen through business and human resources. A severe shortage in adequate training for staff involved in the business intelligence process acts as a barrier to its success. How can you successfully build a BI solution if those tasked with working on them aren’t privy to their operationalization or don’t know how to appropriately respond to its output? This basically renders the information invalid. After all, data might give us tangible fragments of tantalizing and interesting value, but they’d remain stagnant without a bit of forward push and storytelling. 

Maybe the strongest failure in regards to lack of support is how many organizations fail to make a BI solution a universal effort, meaning it is rarely enacted across all aspects of a business. This failure doesn’t come from a lazy or misinformed overall picture of the BI method as most do take the whole spectrum into account, it is more based on limited scoping done before implementing an initiative. It goes hand-in-hand with executing a plan without lining up all the necessary players to ensure the plan succeeds.

Reason 2: Old Technology Breeds Bad Outcomes

If you’re a tech company, you should expect to be on trend with the latest and greatest. It doesn’t mean you must buy every new innovation that makes waves. Granted, you’d be bankrupt after a day if that was the case. However, in terms of business intelligence, if that is a tool you’re using and/or selling, expect to stay on point. Even if you’re not a tech company but have a BI solution, it is imperative that you keep on top of the newest technology associated with excellent delivery.

Ever-changing workflows and the breakup of former big weights like Oracle and SAP have made business intelligence an outlaw. The old standards no longer apply and new technology has no set rules.

Don’t think this means there is now a free-for-all. Law and order still exists. However, just like methodology has changed, so has the technology behind successful BI ventures. 

When pinpointing what exactly is wrong with your old technology, several factors arise. One is limited capacity. As information and your ability to compile it has skyrocketed, it doesn’t mean your ability to house it all has increased as intensely. This leads to vital information loss and only partial intelligence being in consideration during the decision process.

A lot of the mismatch in data performance and storage might come down to when you implemented your BI platform. If it has been awhile, then your system might be out-of-date and missing key components to its reasoning nowadays. If you continue to use this technology, you’re still pulling at IT resources and bandwidth and that can lead to negative results.

Reason 3: Poor User Experience And Understanding

An idea is only as good as its execution, so if your staff is unwilling to use the BI platform, your adoption rates will plummet. Some employees might be hesitant to try concepts they’re unfamiliar with, while others don’t support it for lack of understanding, as mentioned under Reason 1.

If your BI’s output is too intensive and hard to decipher, it defeats the purpose of its goal. It’s important when deciding which platform best fits your business needs to consider that the insights it gleams from all your data is easy to interpret and present. If nobody knows WHY the information is important, they can’t successfully frame a storyboard around the information to drive business objectives.

User experience is imperative to data visualization. Confusing and poorly designed infographics and dashboards can slow down the adoption process, or make users abandon it all together. In order to avoid this conundrum, simplification is needed. Reduce the KPIs your dashboard is tracking or consider switching your software completely to one that provides better clarity.

Reason 4: Bad Data

Bad data hygiene is another massive headache affecting companies with failing BI strategies. If the analytics you’re pulling are unable to separate the useful nuggets of information from the noise, you may veer into the wrong direction with your decision making. 

Avoid this with routine data hygiene maintenance on your data to eliminate the outliers and repetitive information. Also, pick a platform that has built in sanitization and filtering tools that are fully customizable. Once you start distinguishing between good and bad data, you’ll be able to customize and finesse your options for optimal growth.

Reason 5: Miscellaneous Other Factors

There are many other factors behind failed BI initiatives and narrowing it down to one particular problem, or several, can be challenging. You must focus on your individual situation in order to pinpoint issues. They can range from having too many key performance indicators (KPIs) as mentioned above on your dashboards to a breakdown in communication. It might take time and experimentation to accurately target the problems within your BI.

For example, KPIs are needed to track successes and failures for proper performance measurement. However there can be overkill as too many KPIs make it hard to focus on your core competencies. Overusing KPIs on dashboards lead to more than just general confusion, they require more upkeep and analysis. This can complicate seemingly routine tasks and turn them into drawn out and laborious overkill while also diminishing the precision and accuracy of other vital KPIs.

On the communication front, transparency and upfront communication is promised a lot across the tech stratosphere. And while connectivity is widely available and easily available for our personal AND business lives, there still seems to be a disconnect between the halves when it comes down to business principles. 

IT and business decision makers often have parallel initiatives to consider, but their approaches are different. Finding a convergence among the two that incorporates the overall company vision, business operations, deep understanding of organizational scope, and realistic present and future BI goals, while still allowing both IT and executives to make decisions when fully informed, can ensure a BI strategy that delivers rather than dissolves. 

Other miscellaneous factors might take longer to uncover, but with persistence and the right components in place, they can be found and dealt with. 

Moving Forward

Just because most business intelligence strategies fail, it doesn’t mean you have to be part of the statistic. Finding the right enterprise resource takes time, research, and resolve to power through and fix issues and modify or redirect as needed. If you want to take the guesswork out of the experience and entrust an expert with your needs, look no further than ATC. We can hook you up with success and provide ongoing guidance. 

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