by Deepa Sankar, Product Marketing, Business Intelligence, SAP

Picture1Previously, I covered the importance of a business intelligence (BI) strategy and how BICC becomes a key element of your organization. This time, I will cover details on the other critical factors to make your BI program successful.

Companies need to recognize that data is “gold”.  To mine this gold, you have to turn data into insight, which leads to positive impacts on your business, such as increased revenues, reduced costs, managed risks, and capital.  These impacts give your business a better competitive advantage.

But you won’t need to go panning in a river – to turn data into insight, companies just need a good BI program in place.  And the alignment between IT and business is the key critical success factor for any BI program.  The “If we will build it, they will come” philosophy is no longer a viable option.

Begin with Line of Business Executive Buy-In

As a first step, it’s extremely important to get buy-in from line of business (LoB) executives.  The IDC’s 2013 predictions state that “by 2016, 80% of new IT investments will directly involve LOB executives, with LOBs taking the lead decision-maker role in half or more of those investments.”Companies_BI Strategy_6

This means that IT leaders have to build offerings and establish relationships with these influential stakeholders.  To gain LoB executive buy-in, the IT team needs to take the BI program beyond simple reporting and dashboards, and use proof of concepts to demonstrate business value and relevance. You should identify areas that would deliver immediate value to the business, which could be tackling real business issues such as customer retention, improving sales performance, managing complex supply chain networks, and demand forecasting.

It’s critical to identify areas that are well aligned with overall corporate strategy and other important initiatives.  Prioritize two to three areas and demonstrate the value of business analytics to the senior leadership team.  You must keep the selection of the priorities transparent and agreed upon by BI leaders and key stakeholders.

Define the Value of BI with KPIs

Defining the value of BI, i.e. assigning a dollar value to BI, is often challenging since this could be mostly qualitative. Therefore, it’s best to define these benefits ahead of time for the stakeholders to review.   You should also identify business key performance indicators (KPIs) and the expected future value of these KPIs. In my next blog, I will give some examples of some qualitative, quantitative, future state, and best practice KPIs and discuss the importance of promoting your BI success stories.  Stay tuned!



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