In the era of digital revolution, decision making has become more of a science than an art. Gone are the days when decisions were made purely on individual skills and experience. With a large influx of data available to all stakeholders of a company, executives and decision-making units are even more accountable for the choices made. The essence of today’s decision making lies in accessing the right information at the right time.
Business intelligence (BI) and analytics are the key to making those informed choices. BI and analytics are witnessing drastic growth in recent years and will continue to do so in coming years as well. The mindset of companies to adapt to the changing landscape of BI and to exploit the benefits that the tools offer to enterprises is a huge challenge for organizations that lived in the ages of traditional reporting and data warehousing.
An aspect that is often observed in organizations is that the business problems are never static. The requirements change time and time again with the new market challenges confronting the company.
The usability factor of the BI data also becomes questionable by the end of a BI project. Thus, business intelligence, which often starts as an initiative to solve a critical business equation, tends to become just another investment in technology by the end of the project.
BI tools have caused a paradigm shift in report viewing and handling. The dynamic capabilities of BI tools are difficult to visualize for companies that used traditional static reports earlier. Hence the real challenge for executives while migrating to BI is ensuring the completeness of the requirement at the beginning phase of the project. This challenge is further enhanced when technology cost is brought into the equation.
A few questions that loom large among executives while dealing with BI projects are:
- What if the solution does not solve the business problem despite matching the requirements?
- How would I be able to convince myself and other stakeholders on the investment made?
- What if the requirements are wrong? How would I avoid a change request scenario?
Many organizations define success as meeting the project requirements, time and cost. The real objective and success of the BI project should be to solve the business problem at hand and not the requirements alone. The blatant truth is that most of the data challenges that confront BI solutions are often un-imaginable in the beginning and hence requirements are never complete. Only when stakeholders view the first cut of the end product, true requirements will begin to flow as data table correlations and visualizations start to make better meaning.
The best way to tackle such complexities is through a Reporting-as-a-Service model. The services model alongside an Agile project methodology will help companies tackle the challenges on an incremental basis. The continuous engagement model between vendors and clients will help the client companies to not only scale their normal reporting environment but also to be responsive and adaptive to the latest trends and dynamic reporting capabilities of BI, mobility, analytics and Big Data. Business-focused metrics can be designed and redesigned to produce actionable insights and to meet the exact challenges confronting the company. The Reporting-as-a-Service model won’t just solve the business complexities alone; it will also aid companies in shifting the effort and focus from reporting to decision making.
The true success of a business intelligence strategy lies in realizing it as a business investment rather than a technology investment.
Sooryanarayanan Balasubramanian is a management trainee at Saksoft. He is involved in conceptualization of the Reporting as a Managed Service (RaaMS) model and supports the marketing activities for Saksoft. Prior to Saksoft, he worked nearly five years in a German automotive firm and handled multiple clients in different geographies. Follow him on LinkedIn and read his blog.