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strategy and business
 / Summer 2011 / Issue 63(originally published by Booz & Company)


Crafting Best-in-Class Business Intelligence

A business intelligence implementation will run across the breadth of a company’s IT infrastructure. Although managers need not wait for new systems before building out BI capabilities, they must ensure that BI software works alongside the future vision for IT and the business. The good news is that BI software is often a front-end function responsible for collecting input in various forms from the user and processing it to conform to a specification the back end (the “guts” of the system) can use. This allows for a high degree of flexibility in the back end, since the BI software can be configured for compatibility.

Finally, BI projects can touch nearly every data source in a company. IT managers should use agile development practices to ensure a flexible, fast, and effective deployment. If they use a modular approach to implementation, progress interruptions can be prevented; they should also effectively schedule future upgrades in coordination with other system changes.

Culture: Managing Change

A BI implementation will be successful only if people use it, and this kind of change can be intimidating at any level of a company. To ensure success, managers must work to foster demand for the tools from the front line, but also insist that the tools be adopted in the executive ranks. It is not a “build it and they will come” scenario. Adoption must be driven throughout the enterprise. Dashboards and metrics must have teeth, with accountability and incentives. And management must train, communicate, and secure senior leadership support in driving behavioral change.

Establishing a central governance structure is an important step. Business intelligence is unlike any other enterprise application. It requires collaborative ownership and oversight, and business-led governance with IT support. It will require new data management roles and functions, as well as robust metrics life-cycle management and strong, ongoing project management. Such capabilities will also help to prevent project delays or scope creep, which can lead to a loss of organizational momentum.

Successful BI implementation depends on broad, business-based support and cross-functional input. And it depends on the multidisciplinary capabilities and cooperation of the organization’s partners — the vendors, integrators, and consultants who work together to ensure the success of a well-conceived BI project. Together with these providers, a company can understand the current state of its metrics, systems, people, and management, and define a vision of its future.

Reprint No. 11206

Author Profiles:

  • Jamie Campbell is a principal with Booz & Company based in Houston. He focuses on performance management for technology clients.
  • Kenny Kurtzman is a senior partner with Booz & Company based in Houston. He leads the firm’s North American technology and communications practice, with a focus on corporate and business unit strategies, M&A, operations improvement, and organizational change.
  • Adam Michaels is a principal with Booz & Company based in New York. He specializes in developing and implementing innovative supply chain strategies to support new product introductions across consumer, media, and digital industries.


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