Data drives everything these days, and the digital universe’s depth, breadth, and scope are growing every second.
Using data as the basis for a sound business intelligence (BI) strategy is considered today’s top organizational goal. Still, to do so, the organization must also appropriately harness its proprietary information. Once that’s done, you can embrace your company’s BI strategy knowing it’s built upon a solid, reliable data-based foundation.
Use Your BI Strategy to Develop Your Data Strategy
Despite the hype of the past decade that data should drive every decision, too many companies have not yet fully invested in that truth. One survey revealed that only 24% of survey respondents were confident that their enterprise was ‘fully data-driven,’ meaning that the organization has fully embedded corporate data across its entire culture and that all the elements of the organization collect, analyze, and use their data in pursuit of a coordinated strategy.
One of the reasons those organizations give as to why they aren’t yet fully, truly ‘data driven’ is because they haven’t yet aligned their data strategy with their business strategy. Without the impetus flowing from foundational corporate initiatives, it’s almost impossible to develop and pursue a data strategy that can help move the enterprise forward. It’s practically impossible to coordinate data use goals with overarching business goals when an intentional action hasn’t been taken to connect the two.
Instead, some business leaders suggest that companies use their BI strategy to build their data strategy, which has the effect of tying the focus of proprietary corporate information directly to proprietary corporate initiatives. The overall goal is to permeate the effort of the entire enterprise with relevant data that directs all of its performances. A well-thought-out BI strategy will clarify precisely what you want your organization to accomplish AND the precise data and information you need to track your progress.
Building a BI Strategy that Directs Data Strategy Development
The fundamental purpose of the BI strategy is to use corporate information to achieve corporate goals. The reports that collect and track data related to corporate activities, market indicators, consumer insights, and more are, collectively, the ‘intelligence’ that can guide the business. When an enterprise designs those data collection efforts to track its intended goals and then uses those data inputs as directives for its next steps, then it is following a strategy that moves it toward accomplishing its goals. Pursuing that strategy, informed as it is by BI, will ultimately determine the company’s success.
A successful BI strategy connects well-known strategic best practices to internal corporate aspirations. While there are many, many ‘best practices’ espoused in today’s markets, some actions rise above the others:
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the foundation of the BI strategy. Design the BI strategy to address corporate goals as those are fleshed out by KPIs. The emerging IT program’s funding, structure, architecture, and team should focus its efforts on the organization’s primary reason for being, to design a data-gathering practice that responds to those metrics.
- Put BI pursuits in the hands of those who do the company’s business, not the IT department. Most companies have several lines of business that generate their own data independent of the other corporate sectors. These line leaders are more familiar with the what, how, and why they do their work, and those inputs should be driving data collection efforts. Further, encouraging these units to collaborate with each other ensures that data relevant to all will be shared by those to capture it first.
- Usable data should always relate to corporate realities, so clarify your business problems first to discern what data is missing and determine how to find it. That effort alone will reveal at least one relevant data stream that will inform the lone unit or even the entire organization going forward.
- Prioritize which enterprise elements are most critical to the company’s core competencies, then parse out the data streams that feed those initiatives first. When those systems are in place, they’ll suggest where improvements or expansions can happen.
- Build in data security across all metrics and levels, including establishing standards for user and consumer privacy, corporate data governance activities, access and permissions, and compliance with known regulations.
- Train the organization on all levels of corporate intelligence. The entire workforce should know how the company’s data tell its story and how their inputs contribute to that tale. Workers who understand the relevance of their work and how that impacts the organization are often more invested in corporate success and can be the first line of defense when things appear to go awry.
- Validate the data and the BI system at every stage and multiple times. Rigorously testing the programming across the project early and often will ensure that information is accurate and that systems perform consistently.
- Expect agility. Today’s technologies are evolving as fast as the global markets. The BI strategy should be fluid enough to flex to accommodate new forms of data, new standards of practice, and new expectations as corporate fortunes unfold.
Too many companies have stalled in their progress to become ‘data-driven’ because they lack a strategy to move affirmatively in that direction. Developing a BI strategy offers a template to achieve two separate but intertwined goals: achieving the ultimate corporate aspirations while also building that success on relevant corporate information.
The BI strategists at Datavail can help you move your enterprise towards its ‘data-driven’ goals and align the business initiatives you want to the data systems you need.
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