Business Intelligence (BI) Solutions

Over the past decade, it’s clear that technological progress had much to do with traditional business practice changes among many other contributing socioeconomic factors. Generally speaking, most fingers point to the rapid expansion and use of Web 2.0 tools that offer users the ability to easily create content in a variety of data forms, share information and freely publish on the world wide web (WWW) to reach specific target audiences. Some of these commonly used tools can be categorized as social media platforms, websites/blogs, podcasts, and RSS feeds to name a few. What’s most important to note, is the fact that Web 2.0 tools and other Enterprise business technologies generate more data today, than ever before. Depending on the specific scenario, this data is generated at a variety of speeds, sizes, and come in many forms such as: structured, semi-structured, multi-structured, unstructured and raw. With this in mind, the use of data analysis to enable decision-makers has become imperative in the general realm of global business practices, which can be recognized as a change to traditional decision-making business practices that used gut-feeling/intuition alone.

***Highly debatable yet good for thoughtful discussions with management.***

In modern day society, institutional knowledge gained from individual experience is no longer as valuable to companies as is the framework used to manage and operate the organizational memory (i.e. ability to store data, information, and knowledge), information integration (i.e. business analytic tools), insight creation, and visualization business practices.

As a result, the demand for business intelligence (BI) solutions are on the rise as small, medium and large enterprises across a wide-array of industries seek to develop analytic cultures to improve business operations and implement new-wave technologies to facilitate data interpretation. According to Cj Haughey @ Single Grain, outlined in their post 7 Business Intelligence Trends You Can’t Ignore in 2020 , new opportunities for growth are at our fingertips. Question is…what businesses are ready and which ones aren’t?

If more companies are adopting BI solutions to leverage data for decision-making, what are some causes that tend to make BI projects fail? To help address this question, I listed a few reasons below based on industry research for your review. They are listed as:
• Poor planning efforts to identify the business need (lack of a business case);
• Lack of compliance from key data stakeholders (business and information technology professionals);
• Scope is too broad;
• Data quality.

BI Tool vs. BI Solution
To be successful with a BI project, it may be wise to understand the general differences between BI tools and BI solutions. BI tools can offer business users a single BI capability to address specific data needs or a combination of data needs. As an example, BI tools can be custom designed based on a business’s desired software functionality requirements such as the need to present complex data-sets to business users or executives with visualization of the data. In this case, Humphries (n.d.) highlights in the Software Advice survey that 85% of prospective BI software buyers seek visual dashboards, while 55% want reporting capabilities.



This information aligns with the fact that BI tools are primarily used to address either a single BI capability (i.e. organizational memory, information integration, insight creation, and presentation), or a variety of them that often compliment traditional business operational/transactional systems. Furthermore, BI tools can be developed in-house or externally by IT professionals and/or they can be purchased as an off-the-shelf package from a large or small BI vendor.

In comparison, BI solutions rely on BI tools to address overall business project needs associated with all BI capabilities. For instance, a business may use a custom designed BI solution where they strategically select multiple vendor tools for specific BI capability needs, or they may just select one vendor that can meet all the business data needs. Like BI tool selection process, BI solutions need to be carefully planned with the proper data stakeholders and strategically aligned with the business objectives to ensure the right tools will meet customer expectations outlined in the BI solution.

An important vendor attribute to consider…
One important vendor attribute to consider prior to selecting BI tools for an organization is their overall credibility within the BI market. More specifically, it’s important to conduct research on the vendor prior to consulting with them to ensure they have a proven track record of success. For instance, a company does not want to select a vendor to design a custom tool or a packaged deal if the vendor does not properly communicate with BI project managers during the initial planning proposal phase. In this case, the company needs to protect not only their company’s financial resources with regard to return-on-investment (ROI), but also data confidentiality and existing business operations that may get affected if the wrong vendor is selected and the project goes south.

Some food for thought (and perhaps an afternoon snack for you to munch on)…..regardless of your business situation, it’s critical that you learn about the opportunities available with Business Intelligence (BI) solutions and take ACTION before it’s too late. Like some wise man once said, the grass grows where you water it. So go ahead and water that business of yours in order to grow:)

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