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Customer Experience and Design

Implementation Challenges: What is BI?

A common need and challenge experienced by many organizations in the delivery of a BI solution is that while the desire for information is great, it is difficult to get those with the desire to articulate what their need really is. This can include what they plan do with the information once they have it, what’s the value to be derived by having access to the information and, most importantly, what exactly is BI? Let’s start by talking about what BI isn’t. BI doesn’t include mandatory and best practice reporting typically driven by enterprise applications, such as legal, regulatory, financial and operational. It also does not include the delivery of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which can provide a quick barometer or reference as to on-going versus expected performance. I’ll refer to Reports and KPIs collectively as “Reporting”. Reporting is all about displaying what’s normal and known, in other words, what’s “in the box”. Then there’s “Analytics,” a step beyond Reporting, is for those organizations that wish to slice and dice the known or “in the box” data, typically driven by the definition of specific use cases. Analytics can help bring clarity to anomalies seen in reports and KPIs or to evaluate the outcome of certain defined situations. Analytics definitely benefits from the pursuit of BI, but is only a waypoint along the journey.

So, we have Reporting and Analytics. What is BI? Business Intelligence (BI) is complex, broad, and requires a great deal of foundational work and organizational commitment for it to be successful. It’s not just an IT thing. Simply put, you start by collecting the organization’s data, giving it meaning through employment of data governance and management practices, which leads to the creation of information, a corporate asset. Next, it’s about understanding the organization’s norms, so that they can be easily described and rules defined to represent them. Lastly, there’s innovation and opportunity. BI enables innovation by allowing you to venture outside of the box or norm and discover new opportunities that are within the organizations current capabilities to deliver. These epiphanies provide opportunities for your organization to grow and add value through continued improvement and expansion of its products and services.

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