Organizations have never before been so eager to adopt business intelligence (BI) technology. Unfortunately, a lack of alignment between people, processes, and technology has led to many misguided business intelligence deployments. Using a business-centric methodology and process-improvement type of approach, organizations can leverage BI efficiently to enable performance management. Ventana Research believes that organizations that do not take this approach will find themselves like many did after the waves of ERP and CRM with underutilized and over-purchased technology that does not provide a competitive advantage.
Ventana Research defines business intelligence as the transformation of data of any type into meaningful information (structured and unstructured) through an iterative process for a particular business purpose (like performance management). Although BI as a concept and technology is not new, most organizations do not fully understand it, adopt it effectively, or utilize it as a business practice and process. The ultimate goal of BI is to provide individuals with insight and visibility into business and operations and to empower them to make effective decisions and take action towards improved performance.
Enabling BI inside organizations can appear simple, but behind the scenes is a complex network of people, processes, and systems. Synchronizing these three areas is critical to improving the success of BI initiatives. Optimizing the people element requires knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of individuals. Understanding the connections between the individual’s role, their reporting structure, and their involvement in various business processes (i.e. order-to-fulfillment) will provide the framework for linking individuals back to clearly defined objectives and associated key performance indicators (KPI). This people-and-process-based approach will help build a blueprint that links executive strategy, initiatives, and goals to process and performance improvement requirements.
Unfortunately, technology is usually the first thing IT and business get enamored with. Our research has found a significant desire to apply technology to achieve business results. But the important aspect of linking the people and processes is often overlooked, resulting in ineffective and under-adopted BI systems. Our research and strategic assessment work with organizations has found issues in the latency, context, and usefulness of information, which impedes individuals from making informed decisions and improving performance.
Ventana Research believes global organizations with a well-defined BI strategy will develop specific areas of competency to support BI, including information management and integration management. The focus on information management will ensure that the lifecycle (creation-to-usage) and process for managing information is constructed to meet the business needs. The underlying integration management will then support the integration of applications, data, events, and information. Through an information and integration maturity model, organizations can increase their ability to rapidly meet the business requirements of BI. Rationalizing IT investments from a BI and information and integration perspective will build the foundation that management needs to enable performance management anywhere in the organization.
Organizations looking to gain a competitive advantage and leverage their business and IT resources effectively will need to build a BI program that leverages strategy and process. By aligning people and processes through a process improvement approach, you can then perform an assessment of the current environment and determine recommendations for improvement. Only then will organizations find better business applicability and technology alignment in their BI investments. Ventana Research recommends that organizations adopting BI from a business and IT perspective find an executive sponsor and build a cross-functional approach. Employing these steps will accelerate the adoption and maturity of BI in the organization and increase the likelihood of success for BI initiatives.
Mark Smith is CEO & Senior Vice President of Research at Ventana Research.
Ventana Research is the preeminent research and advisory services firm helping our clients maximize stakeholder value with Performance Management throughout their organizations. Putting research in a business and IT context we provide insight and education on the best practices, methodologies and technologies that enable our clients to leverage assets to understand, optimize, and align strategies and processes to meet their goals and objectives.