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HiTech
8 minutes read

Business Intelligence Implementation – Ultimate Guide

by Jonathan Tarud
HiTech
8 minutes read

Business intelligence implementation has the potential to completely transform the way you do business by providing your teams with valuable data analysis and insights into your operations. However, BI implementation is not always simple. 

The larger your business, the more complicated it will be to fully integrate business intelligence tools into your technology ecosystem. These tools need to be compatible with your current web services, data sources, reporting tools, and more. If your BI implementation is done sloppily or improperly, you could end up facing issues with cost, data sources, lengthy delays, and dissatisfied employees.

Let’s review some key BI implementation strategies and tips that can help you have the smoothest possible intelligence implementation. Successful business intelligence is not implemented overnight. It requires patience, planning, and employee education and engagement. 

Tips and Strategies for Successful Business Intelligence Implementation

In order to truly reap the rewards business intelligence tools can offer your organization, you need to take the time to plan for BI implementation. A well-crafted plan will save you time and help you troubleshoot issues as they arise, which they almost certainly will. 

Whether you want to bring in an outside team or hire an in-house team, you’ll want to consider the following tips and strategies for the implementation of a BI solution:

  • Craft a BI strategy
  • Define your key performance indicators
  • Determine data storage 
  • Find the BI software that meets your needs
  • Educate your employees

Craft a BI Strategy

Business intelligence tools represent powerful innovations in HiTech, but without a clear BI strategy, implementation and use of these tools are going to be very difficult. Your business intelligence strategy will be your guide to exposing internal shortcomings and improving business advantages through BI implementation.

In order to create a solid strategy, you need to answer the following questions:

  1. What is my objective?
  2. What do I have?
  3. What do I need?

What is My Objective?

Before you begin implementing intelligence tools, you should know what you are seeking. Most businesses want to improve sales by optimizing customer satisfaction or streamline operations and create a more efficient workforce. You can’t successfully implement BI software until you know what you want it to do. 

What Do I Have?

Currently, you have data sources that you use for data analysis. You need to understand where your data is coming from and how it is being collected. The primary task BI software completes is gathering business data and analyzing it. Before you can move forward with business intelligence implementation, you need to understand what data you currently have and where it comes from. 

What Do I Need?

You need to have realistic expectations and goals for your BI software. There are many different types available. You could have software that integrates all of your current data sources and produces reports. Perhaps, you want to completely replace your existing systems with something new. You need to understand your needs so you can set realistic expectations and focus on the important aspects of your business.

Define Your Key Performance Indicators

You could have the most sophisticated types of AI business intelligence tools at your disposal, but unless you understand and define your key performance indicators (KPIs), it won’t do you much good. KPIs need to be measurable. These data points will directly reflect the success of your business.

It shouldn’t be difficult to define your key performance indicators within individual departments and across your organization as a whole. Some basic examples of KPIs include data points like cost per hire, net income vs. net earnings, return on investment, and customer acquisition cost. 

Understanding your key performance indicators helps you understand the factors that drive your business towards success or failure. Once you know how your KPIs intersect with business goals, you can reap the benefits of BI software. 

Determine Data Storage

If you don’t already have a data storage infrastructure, you will need to determine whether you want to use a data warehouse or a data lake in combination with your business intelligence tools. Many businesses find that the data warehouse is better suited to business intelligence implementation, especially if they are utilizing IoT technologies.

That being said, you can also use a data lake or a combination of data layers that include data warehouse and data lake storage. The data warehouse is a better option for quick data analysis at all levels of your organization. Data lakes are a bit more cost-effective for big data storage and analysis, but since the data is structured and processed differently, they are more geared towards data scientists and engineers. 

Once you have your storage infrastructure determined, you will have to decide whether you want to store your data on-site, in the cloud, or take a hybrid approach. The major upside to on-site data storage is that you have complete control over your servers and software. Plus, sensitive data is more secure on-site. The downside is higher costs. 

The cloud offers quickly scalable storage and managed services. However, you may be hesitant to store sensitive data in a public cloud, and you may experience some latency when accessing your data. Although, the cloud will enable you to access your data from anywhere. 

The hybrid storage approach offers a balance between control, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. The hybrid approach utilizes both cloud and on-site storage. This can help you keep some of your more sensitive data on-site while still utilizing the power and savings of cloud storage.

Find the BI Software That Meets Your Needs

Depending on your BI strategy and business needs, your organization might be better served by a simple BI software solution with only the essential features and functions. On the other hand, your business might require additional functions that serve more specialized needs. 

It is good to understand the basic, essential features of BI software and some more advanced features too, so you can determine whether or not you have found the right BI solution for your needs.

Essential business intelligence software features include:

  • Dashboards
  • Data analysis
  • Reporting tools 

Advanced BI software features could include:

  • Secure data integration 
  • Customizable tools 
  • Self-service platforms
  • Mobile compatibility 

The essential BI software features are crucial to the functionality of the tools. Any BI solution that you are considering should include those three features at a bare minimum. Many businesses and organizations will find that the essential intelligence features serve their needs. 

The more advanced business intelligence features will generally only be used by certain teams or skilled individuals within your business. If your BI solution comes as part of a subscription service, advanced features might not be included in the pricing that you are seeing. Be sure to ask what features are included in your subscription cost if you go that route. 

Here are some additional questions you can ask yourself and your business to ensure that you are finding the right BI software for your needs:

  • How easily will this BI solution integrate with existing systems and data sources?
  • Will this BI software offer easy access and visualization of business data?
  • Does this BI solution offer collaboration and shared data analysis?
  • Will team members be able to dive deeper and make discoveries or insights on their own?

Educate Your Employees

One of the major hurdles any business intelligence implementation will face is the natural human tendency to resist changes. The goal of your business is to successfully and efficiently implement BI software. In order to reduce friction and maximize efficiency, your business should emphasize employee education and training

It is likely that your business has little to no previous experience using BI software. If this is the case, you need to educate each employee and department on how this solution works and how it will benefit and improve their job. Take the time to create a BI team using key members of each department in your business.

BI team members can further the education process and offer their coworkers in their respective departments more individualized and nuanced training in the BI software as it relates to their department. The members of your BI team can also help you identify and prioritize pain points around the business. 

Final Thoughts

Successful business intelligence implementation requires patience and dedication. Implementing new tools in large organizations can present challenges, but if you have the right partner, it can make a world of difference. 

While you may not be looking for software development services, a development partner can help in more ways than managing development projects. For example, BI software implementation often requires integration with current systems, software, and data sources. A software development partner can help you get through the tough stages of implementation and help you educate your teams on how to get the most out of this powerful software. 

A development partner can also help build custom tools to give you more control over the software you have. Industry experience and technical expertise are valuable commodities in the digital age. Do you have the experience and expertise necessary to implement business intelligence tools on your own?

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