Business Intelligence (or ‘BI') has been a buzzword in IT circles for a while now. Essentially, Business Intelligence is the means by which we can gather and translate data to help make key business decisions. In this blog I'd like to take a look at some of the key challenges your business may face when trying to make decisions using Business Intelligence.
It is important to understand first the difference between data and information. Data is absolutely anything that we store in a digital form. Within your business you will no doubt have a mountain of data kept in a variety of places. This data will be in databases, documents, spreadsheets and is likely to be kept on all sorts of media. However this data only becomes information when it answers the questions that business leaders ask themselves and pose to others within their organisation.
So how do we do that? Well that's where BI comes in. BI encompasses the technology we use to transform data into information. Be it data mining, analytics or performance reporting technology BI plays a key role in allowing an organisation to harness their data and introduce it to ‘what-if' scenarios, which will support the decisions any business need to make.
For this reason the links between business units and IT need to strong. IT needs a clear understanding of what the business is setting out to achieve and how it intends to get there. Only by achieving this level of understanding can IT position itself to implement the infrastructure, skills and tools to deliver effective BI. In addition, business units need to ensure that they are totally clear about the information they desire and why it is required. Being vague about information requirements can mean wasted efforts and delays in delivery.
It is also important to remember that there is no ‘one size fits all' when it comes to visually presenting business information. Different types of information will require different solutions. For example, web based reporting is a highly accessible and a visually pleasing medium, but may not be suitable for information that is highly detailed or needs to be manipulated. Discuss the options available with your IT department and come to a joint decision on the best medium for specific types of information representation.
In summary, BI needs careful consideration throughout all levels of the organisation. Ensure that you involve your IT department from the start to put in place a sound BI infrastructure. If you work within the IT department take the initiative and involve yourself with key business activities. Only by understanding how our business operates can we hope to deliver the solutions that will benefit it.Watch this space for further blogs that detail how Clarion is approaching its own business intelligence challenges.
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