“Four out of five are disappointed with BI”
This was the headline in the newspaper Børsen a while ago.
Having worked with BI for 16 years such statement of course triggers some reflection. Why has BI not been able to deliver on its promise – where did we as BI professionals fail? On the other hand – was I surprised by the headline? Actually not – the statement fits very well with the observations I’ve made during numerous dialogs with companies in all kind of industries. I meet a lot of frustrations and pain stories regarding endless struggles with late deliveries, changing source systems, shifting technology platforms, data quality issues, lack of competencies and management commitment etc. Some of the answers simply point back to the fact that BI is a very complex discipline that requires dedicated focus. When you try to beat huge challenges with a “left-handed” semi committed and unfocused / uncoordinated effort expecting to be able to achieve great results just by installing a BI tool and making some reports, it is no wonder people get disappointed.
At several occasions I have been preaching the importance of having a BI strategy (or just a simple plan please), that is linked to the company business strategy/action plan and outlines how we in this company plan to deliver BI centric business capabilities.
A quote from Bill Gates:
“The way you collect, manage and use information will determine whether you become a winner or a loser”.
A key business capability supported by BI is regulatory compliance reporting. The value of this is difficult to measure. Can we make more money via legal reporting?…..perhaps not directly but the focus on accuracy and quality will benefit other initiatives as well. At least for some industries this is the ticket to be staying in business (e.g. regulatory compliance reporting like Basel II and MFI for the financial sector). Compliance reporting will not make you a winner but it will make you survive.
What will make you a winner is leveraging business insight to run your company smarter than your competitors. At the end of the day, the value of BI is measured in the ability to make decisions that enables/improves the business. So a key success factor going forward is the ability to professionalize decision making and implementation why topics like collaborative BI and decision automation has become so hot. The making and implementation of decisions, which I will also address at the IM conference in Copenhagen in October, is not trivial but something you need start taking more serious. Far too often, large amounts of effort are put into solution development, but everything happening after “go live” seems to be quite random based on the experience and mood of the end user consuming the information.
That will not make you a winner….it will make you disappointed.