Guest Contribution by Lenny Williams
Many companies end up operating on the principle of, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This approach theoretically makes sense: Seeking to improve what’s already sufficient can seem risky and expensive. But the truth is this wariness often ends up holding enterprises back from innovating in the way it takes to remain competitive in this day and age.
Business intelligence (BI) is a perfect example of where this cautious, reactive approach can end up costing companies. Failing to optimize a BI strategy leaves a lot of money on the table in the form of missed opportunities to improve efficiency and tap into new revenue streams.
Here are four signs your business intelligence strategy could be better:
Sign #1: Thinking About BI as Reporting Only
If your company conceptualizes BI as reporting only, take this as a sure sign it’s time to expand your horizons. BI is about so much more than simply generating reports; these days it’s about allowing employees to ask questions of data, drill deeper into interactive charts and even find the answers to questions they haven’t yet thought to ask.
Research firm Gartner differentiates two different eras of BI: Traditional BI in which IT professionals used in-house data to generate reports, and modern BI “where business users interact with agile, intuitive systems to analyze data more quickly.”
Yes, modern BI platforms help democratize data — which means giving wide access to all users, rather than treating specialized teams as the gatekeepers of BI reporting — but that’s just the start of what today’s systems can do.
Search-driven analytics tools, for example, allow all sorts of users to ask ad hoc questions in plain language and receive answers back in seconds. Furthermore, artificial intelligence-driven analytics tools like SpotIQ from ThoughtSpot send algorithms deep into data to detect trends and anomalies, before automatically porting them to human users to support decision-making activities.
The legacy model of users having to request formal reports from specialists, or even generate their own reports, is outdated. Interactivity, convenience, speed and AI are driving modern BI.
Sign #2: Dealing with Siloed Data
As we mentioned above, data used to be the domain of IT specialists, rather than the general workforce. This approach is changing for the better as organizations embrace data democratization. Data siloes — isolated sources of information — inhibit collaboration and can have different departments operating based on differing data, depending on which silo they can access. If your company still functions this way, rather than from a centralized, accessible single source of truth, your BI strategy could benefit from an improved approach.
Sign #3: Experiencing Reporting Backlogs
Experiencing BI reporting backlogs is a symptom of both data siloes and general inaccessibility of information to decision-makers throughout an organization. When IT teams funnel the flow of data, they can easily become overwhelmed by the volume of requests coming in from other teams — which spurs backlogs and delays. Your BI plan needs an overhaul if employees are facing wait times of days, weeks or months to get the insights they need.
Sign #4: Low User Adoption Rates of BI Platform
What percentage of users within your organization currently adopting BI tools as a part of their regular workflow? Poor adoption rates usually point to usability issues, a lack of comfort working with data, and insufficiently data-driven company culture or another workflow issue that holds an enterprise back from really capitalizing on what the data is saying.
If your company experiences one or more of these four signs your BI strategy could be better, consider investing in the improvements necessary to get the most value out of data possible.