Many companies have implemented business intelligence in a piecemeal way, but should they have an overarching strategy?

business intelligence symbols hovering over people working at a computer
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A majority of companies are in early adoption stages when it comes to business intelligence (BI). They have a few BI implementations but have not thought about it globally for their organization; although, there are many benefits that can come with building an overarching BI plan.

Business intelligence is a broad-based category of data analytics and management technologies that covers every aspect of the business. BI can support both operational and strategic decision making and is best used if it works within a framework that leverages data across the entire organization.

This framework can be facilitated by commercial business intelligence tools, but the assistance tools offer will be limited if you don’t have a BI plan.

SEE: Business intelligence cheat sheet: The complete guide for 2022 (TechRepublic)

Five elements to consider when building a BI strategy

BI strategies should be carefully designed so they fit the needs and the culture of the organization you’re in. Here are five key elements you’ll want to consider in your BI strategizing:

Management support

Does management understand what BI is and why it matters? Will they support your efforts with budget and staff resources?

If the answer to any of these questions is no or not sure, then the BI strategic plan has to clear up confusion and misperceptions and make a compelling business case for BI first.

Staff readiness

Is your staff ready to develop and support BI?

BI is data and analytics intensive. It must also address the needs of the business and solve them.

Areas of IT staff where you will need solid BI skills are the database group, since many BI data repositories, warehouses and marts will be needed to support BI analytics data enterprise-wide; the application group, which must be savvy in BI tools and development; and the business analyst group, which must be able to effectively work with end users to develop the best BI use cases.

Organizational readiness

Using business intelligence means reimagining business processes and decision making. It also requires personnel in IT with expertise in database design, system integration, data management and business use case development.

How deep are your staff’s technical skills levels for BI? Are your users (and their managers) ready to embrace the business process changes that BI is likely to bring?

A willingness to move into a BI environment should be well-established in IT and the user base before you proceed with an enterprise-wide BI strategy.

A data-centric view

A successful BI infrastructure must be able to operate on data of all kinds that can reach every corner of the enterprise.This requires knocking down system silos, moving different types of data into a single data repository, and ensuring data across all systems is consistent and accurate, so it can be leveraged to the max.

None of this can be achieved without a strong data architecture consisting of various data marts, warehouses and repositories that can all work together and exchange data within your BI framework.

The right BI partners

There are many different BI consulting practitioners and software providers, but not all of them provide the same level of BI expertise.

Finding a vendor in your industry that is also familiar with your company’s particular needs is a great asset. If you’re new to BI and BI strategy development, it’s helpful to work with others who have traveled the route.