Getting the Best Out of BI Technologies

Any time a company invests significant time, human power and money into an initiative, it wants to know how to make sure those expenditures are worthwhile. Business intelligence (BI) and analytics undertakings are no different.

Here are some key considerations for getting the absolute best out of enterprise BI technologies.

Make Sure BI Tools Are Easy to Use

The usability of your business intelligence and analytics solutions is paramount to determining how often users take advantage of them — as well as influencing the quality of the insights available to these users. Whenever employees have to struggle with a complicated or laggy interface, it can affect their willingness to keep utilizing the tools in question.

The result? When usability is low, enterprises struggle to maintain and grow user adoption rates. As TDWI asks, what good is deploying a host of BI tools “without a user base that champions them?”

Adoption begins first and foremost with how people are able to interact with system at hand. Consider the difference between employees having to navigate an inefficient legacy system that requires assistance from the IT team versus employees being able to ask all their questions in one place using a tool similar to an online search engine. In this way self-service BI technologies aim to encourage widespread adoption by empowering all kinds of users to, well, use them without hassle.

Another consideration for making the most out of these BI tools is providing people with the training — in using the tools on the front-end and effectively interpreting insights on the back-end — so they can thrive. Choosing intuitive, responsive tools and then providing relevant training is a winning recipe to boost adoption.

Ensure Tech Creates a Single Source/Version of Truth

Another crucial factor that can contribute or detract from successful adoption of BI tech is how apt users are to trust the insights they receive. And, when different users receive contradictory insights — i.e. executives are seeing different numbers for the same performance metrics than the marketing managers — it tends to erode people’s sense of faith in analytics.

Furthermore, the lack of a unified single source of truth can lead decision-makers to act based on what appears to be true from their limited perspective rather than what is objectively true.

Effective BI and analytics platforms are able to create a single source of truth, even while incorporating many disparate data sources. This approach requires moving beyond data silos, which prevent teams from “sharing the same data language,” as one expert writes for Forbes.

Competing versions of the truth undermine trust in data and the ability for decision-makers across an organization to collaborate. Creating a single source of truth has to do with how the platform is able to bring together internal and external data sources into one functional warehouse — which eliminates the needs for silos. Creating a single version of the truth has to do with ensuring everyone within the company sees the same correct information for the same query.

Encourage a Data-Driven Company Culture

The intersection of company culture and data affects everything from employee attitudes surrounding data to decision-making best practices throughout the organization.

What does a strong data-driven culture include?

  • A sense of purpose for its analytics endeavors. 
  • Buy-in from executives — both in theory and in practice.
  • Buy in from leaders at every level of management.
  • Democratized data via self-service BI and analytics tools.
  • Enterprise-wide governance that addresses usage and risk.
  • The right people in the right positions to evangelize, analyze, etc.

Any tools a company deploys are only fractionally as impactful without the culture to back them up by encouraging their usage, insight sharing and data-driven decision making as the norm.

Getting the best out of BI tech starts with usability, truth and culture.

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