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The paradox of BI strategy

In my previous blog post I outlined seven predictions for BI in Denmark and promised to comment on each of them.

The first was: “The majority of companies still won’t have a BI strategy – nor will they define one”

I also stated that the same companies continue to wonder why their BI initiatives fail. Indeed it is a mystery to me why so few do have a strategy even after they have been struggling for years. It is often said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.

Are people involved in BI endeavors generally insane since so many continue to develop uncoordinated BI solutions without having a plan and then expect to be able to harvest synergies and to leverage platform investments? Perhaps we have just learned to accept that rework, overrun projects, dissatisfied users, continuous debates of roles and responsibilities and fight over resources and tools are must-live-with-attributes of BI?

So why is it so hard to make a strategy in this area? – I hear a lot of different explanations:

  • People in our organization do not like strategies
  • It is too difficult
  • We are too busy (…perhaps doing rework due to      lack of plan in the first place…)
  • We will just get into political fights

Perhaps people are simply afraid of the word Strategy…..it sounds like something very hard, theoretical and expensive. If you think so, take a look at Wikipedia where strategy simply is defined as a plan of actions. I totally agree in that definition. For me this sounds like common sense with a structure.

How can you expect to achieve great results without having a plan of action that addresses the key success factors of your initiative? For BI such plan should address key elements like:

  • Alignment to corporate business strategy and initiatives described via information use cases.
  • Information delivery architecture supporting a wide range of usage scenarios
  • Technology platform addressing multiple user types and capabilities
  • Organization with roles and responsibilities in regards to development, deployment, support, change management and benefit harvest
  • Policies, guiding principles and best practices

So this quote from a CIO of a large Danish Company: “Our BI strategy is SAP” is not enough. It only addresses one of the above elements.

In order to make a plan for your journey you need to understand you starting point and where you are heading. Why are we doing BI and what do we want to achieve? – what are our information use cases?  – where do we want to go?

Likewise there are simple ways to analyze and design the remaining elements of a BI strategy. With the right structure and approach it is easier than you would think …. so just get started.

As I said, I have come across multiple excuses for not having a BI strategy….what is yours?


About Peder J. Pedersen

Peder J. Pedersen is an industry expert and thought leader within the field of Information Management. As Partner Mr. Pedersen heads up the Implementation practice globally for Platon – the leading independent Information Management consulting company. Since mid-nineties Mr. Pedersen has been working with almost all aspects and disciplines within BI - from design over project management to managing the Global BI department at LEGO System. Now he advises clients across industries on Information Management issues and best practices with focus on the how to drive business value from the Information Management initiatives. He is speaker at conferences and seminars around the world.


3 thoughts on “The paradox of BI strategy

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