With businesses having access to more operational data than ever, a business intelligence strategy is one of the best ways to extract value and act upon key insights.
The modern business world is dominated by data, making it important for organisations of all sizes to gather and leverage analytics to remain competitive and responsive to growth opportunities.
Business Intelligence (BI) involves several practices and technologies working in unison to collect, integrate, visualise, and present these insights to support effective analysis and data-led decisions.
Having a strong business intelligence strategy can provide a roadmap for businesses to measure their performance, address customer needs, and seek out competitive advantages.
In short, a business intelligence strategy is a blueprint for how a company utilises its data and it requires a combination of the right architecture, people, processes, and technology.
In this article, we will explore how to effectively develop a strong BI strategy and how the technology procurement specialists at YourShortlist can help you find the ideal BI partner.
Why Companies Need a Business Intelligence Strategy
Business intelligence, at its core, is about collecting and analysing data to improve business performance.
Managers and business leaders will set performance targets and accompanying those will be questions about how they will be achieved.
For instance, if the goal is to increase profit margin by a significant percentage in the coming fiscal year, stakeholders will want to know how the company plans to improve the efficiency of the functions and processes enabling profitability.
Business intelligence software tools aggregate data from across the business to uncover and report on trends in large data sets to help business leaders communicate insights to stakeholders and benchmark future efforts against past performance.
A business intelligence strategy is important in helping guide this analysis, provide a timeline for reporting, and set out a plan for how key data trends will be acted upon.
Customer, operations, and performance data gathered through strategic BI can allow a company to grow to a competitive – or even market-leading – level.
Your BI strategy can serve as the framework upon which key business activities and processes will be built to help inform the organisation’s actions and decision-making.
The Benefits of a Business Intelligence Strategy
Faster implementation, faster results
Companies can generate the most benefit from BI tools by optimising a quick and effective implementation process, which is a fundamental component of a BI strategy.
Once you have identified suitable BI software, you will need to plan how data insights will be reported, and by whom.
For instance, HR departments would be the best to report on employee performance, attendance, and payroll information, whereas sales performance dashboards should be managed by sales or finance teams.
BI software can be far easier to implement and leverage with a strategy in place for key responsibilities and actions from across each relevant department in the company.
Timely reporting and analysis
Choosing BI tools with intuitive and customisable visualisation features can greatly speed up reporting as well as lessen the difficulty curve for those learning how to use the new software.
The strategic element comes into play when reporting duties are assigned and standardised reporting templates are established at an early stage, with managers regularly reviewing the efficiency of the reporting process.
Building this into your business intelligence strategy will ensure your reporting timescales provide the necessary room for effective analysis.
Mitigate business risks
Businesses often take significant risks when planning to scale their operations and expand into newer territories.
Establishing a business intelligence strategy will allow you to leverage data in your decision-making and set growth plans built upon a foundation of accurate projections.
Incorporating risk assessment and compliance management into your BI strategy will afford you much more foresight and the ability to react to potential risks quickly and effectively.
Developing a Successful BI Strategy
To create a BI strategy, you must determine three things:
- How will you deploy the BI software platform within the business?
- How will you collect and report on the data for analysis?
- How will your business leverage the data to make informed decisions?
A business intelligence strategy will include several steps and elements that will help to answer each of these questions.
These can include establishing access to sales performance benchmarks, creating human resources salary forecasts, and ensuring open lines of communication between all relevant departments.
Success from a defined BI strategy occurs through a systematic approach to the discovery of data, planning of core responsibilities, and measured execution of key activities.
When developing a BI strategy, some other key elements to include are:
Define the infrastructure that will enable your BI software to integrate with all other core business technology. This includes IT architecture (either cloud-based, on-premises, or a hybrid approach), cyber security requirements, reporting tools, metadata, financial software integration, and access for all relevant personnel across each department.
A BI strategy needs to have someone in a leadership position acting as both the driver and support. Ensure that your strategy leader is briefed on how the company’s market stake and growth potential will be affected by the BI strategy, as well as informing them of all other responsibilities across each department. They will likely require a structured review and reporting timetable to keep them updated with ROI and trends. And early on in the strategy development, you should endeavour to include all key stakeholders in your communications for full transparency.
Documenting the status of the BI strategy will help to define future requirements and improvements at each interval, whether monthly, quarterly, or annually. Identifying data silos and gaps throughout the process should ensure that the BI data gathered can be used most effectively in developing a strategic roadmap.
Integrated software systems are essential to developing your BI strategy. Consider looking for BI tools and integrations that will provide you with the most relevant data in the easiest way at the most reasonable price. It may be that you find a suite of integrated applications, or simply an all-in-one BI system that provides everything you need. Deciding on which tool makes the most sense for your organisation is a vital part of any BI strategy.
The BI strategy will likely become the key source of information to define stakeholder expectations and plans for the growth of the business. Everyone involved in the development, management, and execution of the business intelligence strategy must agree on the overall vision and scope so that everyone is on the same page.
The ideal choice to spearhead a BI strategy and garner the support of high-level employees should be an executive leader. It’s important to begin your strategy development with the participation and oversight of someone who can align the long-term company goals with those identified by your BI analysis. A chief data officer, or similar role, would be an ideal appointment to oversee the BI strategy.
The Role of a BI Partner in Strategy Development
When it comes to developing and acting upon a BI strategy, it helps to have the assistance and expertise of a BI partner.
BI partners are providers of BI software systems and can help with both the initial onboarding and long-term implementation and maintenance of your system.
They can help to guide your BI strategy by suggesting ways of maximising the effectiveness of the system, setting up custom reporting templates, enabling integrations with your other business technologies, or providing support services that can guide your business intelligence activities.
However, you may be wondering, how can you source the ideal business intelligence strategy partner from all the potential options on the market.
This is where YourShortlist can provide an answer.
Find Your Business Intelligence Strategy Partner
YourShortlist is recognised as a trusted, independent intermediary to IT buyers, with a rapidly expanding network of over 2400 technology Partners providing solutions in BI, ERP, finance software, and more.
We provide independent, impartial buying advice on the best solutions and providers on the market and can provide you with a free, bespoke shortlist of specially selected BI Partners.
You can even view Partner profiles and reviews through our exclusive Partner directory and receive free call-backs from Partners with no obligation to purchase.
If you’re looking for a Partner to help you develop your business intelligence strategy, discuss your requirements with a member of our team today to receive your free, bespoke shortlist.