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BI and the Need for Speed

Friday, June 28, 2013

Information Management keeps us up to speed on business intelligence and the time it is taking to invest and implement

In the burgeoning world of big data and business intelligence, the whispers are getting louder. Business users are questioning the lofty claims made by BI vendors, analysts, consultants and others with increased suspicion.

And from a purely common sense perspective, they’re absolutely right to be skeptical. It’s mid-2013, and by far the biggest frustration for organizations is the length of time it takes to achieve a return on their BI investment.

The data’s out there, faster technologies currently exist, and BI expertise is readily available. A perfect storm, if you will. So why does it still take so long — six months to a year or more in some instances — to go from BI project inception to actionable results? It’s time to execute more common-sense, inexpensive approaches using results-oriented practices that quickly provide measurable results to doubtful business users, before they invest in costly large-scale endeavors based purely on faith.

Speedy ROI is the Goal

It’s more than reasonable for business users to demand evidence that the products and services they’ve been proposed will reap the intended benefits. Asking the obvious, “Why does it take so long?” exposes flawed practices in need of improvement. Businesses are currently grappling with how to gain faster returns on their BI investments while shedding unnecessary obstacles along the way. These logjams can include frequent peer reviews, myriad signoffs, competing departmental agendas and expensive hardware upgrades, among other issues.

Recently, one consumer-packaged goods conglomerate addressed these problems in a challenge to prospective BI vendor and consulting teams. Its goal was to kick-start a business intelligence initiative using a more streamlined approach with easier-to-execute, more transparent steps. Its top priority was speedy ROI without any interference or involvement from internal departments that had no discernible impact on the process.

One can salute this firm’s assertive realignment of its thinking and its priorities as a typical example of the corporate dynamic behind rapid enablement — not allowing obstructions like rigid policies, internal company politics or complacency to interfere with what’s in the best interest of an organization as a whole. True progress generally occurs when we take a good hard look at what we’re doing and question past practices, hierarchies and alliances. The key to success is in preserving what we know works while having the courage to throw out outdated, cumbersome methodologies that serve an inflexible system rather than best serving our needs and goals.

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