Establishing a strong business intelligence (BI) strategy for your business can be extremely powerful - if it’s done correctly. The key to getting it right? Having a complete strategy that combines historical BI with forward-looking predictive analytics.
Here, we break down exactly how to develop this kind of BI strategy and how to use it to strengthen your business.
What is BI and How It Can Help Your Business
In the big picture, BI is essentially a comprehensive analytics solution that you can use to better understand your company and the state of the market that you’re growing in. The operative word here is comprehensive: in order for BI to really work, you have to start from the ground up and ensure that you don’t leave out any key components.
This means that, at the very least, your BI plan must include: your strategy, your team, your sources and your data storage. That said, checking these items off the list is no easy task, as doing so requires exact development and implementation. Let’s dive into the specifics:
How to Create Your BI Strategy
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to creating and implementing a new BI strategy. Here are the 4 main components that must be addressed:
1. Your BI Roadmap
At its core, BI is all about analytics and data, which means that you need to have both of those things in order if you want a strong overall strategy. Specifically, you need to understand and organize the following:
Report and analytics needs: What are the main analytics that you want to keep track of? What metrics are most important for you to improve your strategies? Where is that information coming from? Determine your primary needs and start building your strategy from there.
Industry KPIs: Don’t just think about your company. Research your industry KPIs - like sales, ROI and profit margins - and develop a firm understanding of these benchmarks so that you know exactly how your business is doing in the big picture.
Custom KPIs: There are going to be company-specific metrics that you’ll need to keep track of. Set these up early on so you know what to track and how you’re doing.
Historical data: You can’t fully understand your business’ progress unless you monitor its changes over time. Keeping track of historical data can help you get a bird’s eye view of your company. This, in turn, can help you learn and pinpoint exactly where your efforts are struggling or where you need to make pivots in your strategies.
BI Clients: Consider who will be using your BI solution and cater to their needs.
2. Your BI Team
At this point, it goes without saying that BI involves a lot of work, which means that you need to make sure that your team can effectively organize their tasks and carry out a strong BI plan. Here are the five main BI “roles” to incorporate into your business. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you need five different people accomplishing these tasks, but rather that you should ensure that someone on your team has the bandwidth and skill to fill these shoes:
Head of BI: Equipped with business and technological skills, this person will establish and execute the BI strategies that generate insights and improve your business.
BI Developer: Your developer will design and build data pipelines to integrate data from various sources, ensuring that all of your most important information is properly extracted, transformed and loaded into your data warehouse.
Data/business analyst: The analyst acquires, processes and summarizes data. He then uses this information to supply their organization with reports, summaries, and visualizations, thereby transforming the analytics into comprehensible, actionable insights.
DBA: This person is in charge of all things database-related. The DBA maintains database systems, creates new database applications, supports existing database applications, and manages an organization’s data and metadata.
Data Scientist: The data scientist utilizes computer programming, statistics, analytical tools and machine learning to pull out actionable insights from big data.
So why do you need all of these “roles” filled on your team? BI is completely useless if it’s done wrong or incompletely, and the reality is that it will be incomplete without dedicated team members.
Think about it: without committed BI team members, existing employees will have to split their time and choose between conducting their analytics and focusing on other core aspects of their position. In such instances, BI will always come second, which means that certain aspects of the job will most certainly fall through the cracks.
This is especially true if there is no one in the company that’s holding the team accountable and ensuring that BI efforts don’t go to waste, so it’s particularly helpful to have someone in your upper management as part of.your BI team and support system.
3. Your Data Sources
Most businesses these days have data coming in from many different sources, and all of this information must be analyzed comprehensively in order to have an accurate and effective BI strategy. This means that you have to gather and organize your:
- Core data: Data generated by your business via mobile app, website, online shop, etc.
- Peripheral data: Data generated from purchased products or services, like a CRM or an analytics system.
- External data: Data gathered from things like sentiment analysis.
The first step here, then, is figuring out what data sources you have, what information is most relevant from each source, and how to look at them comprehensively. This brings us to our next point - data storage.
4. Your Warehouse
Once you know the what of your data sources, you have to decide on the where. For most businesses, of course, this means choosing and building a data warehouse. If they’re organized correctly, data warehouses can give you a comprehensive view of your company’s history so that you can understand how well your efforts are working and make powerful strategic decisions. Once again, though, it’s all about taking your time and doing it correctly. For DWH’s, this means determining things like:
- Schema design
- Cloud vs On-premise
- DB Size
Focusing on these four components and developing them is the first step to creating a comprehensive and useful BI strategy for your business. Of course, this is merely a cursory overview, not a complete breakdown of BI.
For a step-by-step breakdown, check out our eBook How to Build an End-to-End BI Solution or contact one of our solution experts today.