The Characteristics of a BI Vision and Strategy
BI visionaries today see an enterprise approach from vastly different perspectives depending upon where they reside in the corporate infrastructure. If you are a part of the IT organization, the emphasis is clearly upon the technology. How does any proposed BI tool comply with our standards? What is its behavior within our infrastructure? Does it use our data sources effectively? How does the vendor support it? The usual IT concerns apply.
From the perspective of end users, the issues are more functionally oriented and business related. They want to know how to use the tool. How easy is it to learn? How do they access their data and how do they perform a specific task? What do they need on their workstation? Can they access their BI "stuff" from their PDA? It's all about usage and results.
So, now we face a real conundrum with our BI plans. The CIO and other "C Level" individuals have made BI a priority for our enterprise. We already have a smattering of tools, each with their own population of loyal users, as well as processes and possibly applications in place. Do we just make changes in how we operate and support BI within the organization, or do we take a step back and map our vision to a set of clear goals and objectives? Why not start with a clear, concise vision statement? I'm not talking about one where someone has it printed in pretty lettering and hangs it on the walls in corporate meeting rooms (well...maybe I am), but where everyone involved and responsible could articulate it when asked: "What is your strategy—your enterprise vision of BI?"
It may sound a bit trite, but I have seen some very senior people go blank when I ask them this question. It is imperative that a person be able to articulate his BI plan, or we will watch him continue down the same path with little or no hope of change.
A sample vision statement might look something like this:
- Our corporate vision for BI is to create and support an infrastructure with secure and authorized access to data held anywhere in the enterprise. Our corporate standard for a BI tool is ________. We staff and measure our BI competency center based upon end-user satisfaction surveys and successful deployments. An important segment of our end-user community requires near real-time data access. Therefore, we have provided such an infrastructure to accommodate them. We currently support ___ users representing ___ % of our user population. Our goal is to increase the usage by ___ % by (date). We weigh the potential costs of increased BI usage against the business value and ROI we receive. Thus, we have a clear view of our success that is measured, accountable, and defensible.
If your view of BI is the provisioning of a suite of tools and gadgets that are low cost and designed to get the end users out of your hair so you can do the real work, this book is not for you. If, however, your goal is to establish something akin to the vision statement articulated previously, please read on.