Blog: Lyndsay Wise Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed!

Lyndsay Wise

Hi and welcome to my blog! I look forward to bringing you weekly posts about what is happening in the world of BI, CDI and marketing performance management.

About the author >

Lyndsay is the President and Founder of WiseAnalytics, an independent analyst firm specializing in business intelligence, master data management and unstructured data. For more than seven years, she has assisted clients in business systems analysis, software selection and implementation of enterprise applications. Lyndsay conducts regular research studies, consults, writes articles and speaks about improving the value of business intelligence within organizations. She can be reached at lwise@wiseanalytics.com.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Lyndsay's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

Business Intelligence has been a top priority for many CIOs and other project sponsors for years and most organizations perform some level of analytics on a daily, if not intra-daily basis. Many organizations, however, are looking for more up to date technologies or ways of bringing their BI use to the next level. This blog tends to address a lot of how to’s and steps for success. What it rarely talks about are some of the mistakes I’ve seen organizations make that end up turning the promise of BI into a failed project. So here are 5 things that I see regularly that cause organizations’ BI projects to fail:

  1. Lack of scope: Sometimes organizations know they want to implement BI but it is more of a directive based on an article read as opposed to a direct business need. When this happens, organizations can either identify the challenges within their business or simply look to implement a tool that will replace current reporting and spreadsheet use. Although, replacing older tools and spreadsheets can be a positive step towards building up organizational efficiencies, a lack of a business-focused scope can lead to project failure. A lack in project scope generally leads to failure because of a lack of adoption, poor development, or the inability to develop metrics tied to business pains.
  2. Trying to do too much too soon: This can be considered the opposite of not having a proper scope. Sometimes organizations try to do everything at once by including everything under the sun in their BI project scope. They want to address all needs in the organization with the same solution and expect that it is possible to do so with a single project plan and implementation. The reality is that a centralized BI approach is possible, however, it needs to be planned for. This means developing an iterative project plan to take into account the different phases of data acquisition, solution development, and rollout using an iterative approach. Additionally, even if using a centralized approach to BI development, rollouts need to be incremental in nature to assume small wins before moving forward. 
  3. Being unwilling to take the time to evaluate internal requirements against the market: Software selection tends to be a challenge for many organizations as the market is flooded with solutions that sound like they meet most business needs. The reality, however, can be different. Depending on the platform used, how information will be delivered, and what type of analytics required, different business challenges may need separate solutions. The reality is that researching the market is time consuming at the best of times and requires an understanding of product roadmaps, potential implementation hurdles, and capabilities, and match that to the business requirements of the organization. Additionally, this has to happen after the business and technical requirements have been gathered, making it a long process. Many want to skip this process, but in the end, taking the necessary steps can make the difference between selecting the right solution and having to conduct a new product search after implementation. 
  4. Bad project planning: BI is a project like any other that requires a strong project plan and management. Although most organizations have some project management in place, some are not prepared for the level of involvement it requires to build a BI solution. In most cases, failure ends up occurring when organizations try to do everything at once by bundling their BI implementations with other IT projects. Whether new Website builds, updating customer applications, or developing a new service, most BI projects need to be managed independently without having to compete with many other projects at the same time. Unless enough internal developers exist to manage all of these projects simultaneously, organizations need to make sure that their BI project can be managed from start to finish, with an understanding that additional support may be required. 

These are the top 4 that I see regularly, but are not an exhaustive list. Let me know what other mistakes you’ve seen in the market – whether from the prospective of organization, consultant, or implementer. 

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

website statistics


Posted May 27, 2014 6:06 PM
Permalink | No Comments |

Organizations are constantly looking for ways to meet the needs of their customers. Better service, customized products, and price guarantees are just some ways that organizations try to ensure customer loyalty. For service and data providers, however, it is not always easy to provide added value beyond the service or data provided. The promise of more data and better visibility help ensure customer satisfaction by giving customers the tools they need to gain added insights. This gap has led to organizations providing analytics as part of their offerings to ensure that customers can access broader insights automatically without having to download data or change formats and apply their own business rules to gain deeper insight. 

Non-profit, education, and government are examples of industries that have posted demographics or other analytical data online for public consumption. When dealing with for-profit companies, most provide analytics in the guise of embedded analytics. What this means is that organizations develop applications that are embedded within their solutions that can be provided as a service to customers. This access to analytics helps provide customers with broader insights into their accounts, customers, trends, reporting needs, etc. In many cases, businesses add these additional reporting or analytics capabilities as an add-on to the services or information already provided.

For organizations considering this added level of analytics access, the first step is to understand end user requirements. What data is currently being looked at, where are their gaps in visibility, what information do customers need to give them that added advantage, and what needs to be done internally to make all of this happen. These questions represent the starting point. Luckily for organizations going this route, there are many solution providers that offer embedded BI as a key aspect of their offerings. Therefore, when organizations look at evaluating software vendors, one of the things they have to do is make sure that the capabilities they require are also provided within an embedded environment. 

Once software is selected, the process of acquisition and integration will mirror a traditional analytics implementation, with one key difference – the opportunity to monetize use. Organizations need to identify whether they will provide this new service at a premium, as pay per use, or develop some other cost model. Overall, organizations want to do more than justify their expenditures; they want to transform this new operating expense into revenue.

The ability to provide analytics to others as part of a new or added value service is one of the reasons more and more organizations are looking towards embedded analytics. Aside from added revenue, though, the reality is that as customer expectations grow and analytics become the norm, more and more businesses will start to take advantage of embedded analytics to be able to provide their customers with greater information visibility. Currently providing a level of competitive edge will no longer be the case when customers start to expect this level of insight into their data.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

website statistics


Posted May 22, 2014 12:31 PM
Permalink | No Comments |

The business intelligence market is diverse. Many organizations try to decipher which solution will work best in their environment but find it challenging because of the number of vendors and similar marketing campaigns. Although there is no easy way to simplify the BI landscape, decision makers can break out potential solutions based on their needs to identify which offerings are on target. It should be noted that some vendors fall into more than one category, while others are niche vendors that do one thing well. In the latter case, an organization may have to develop a piecemeal approach to make sure that all business and technical needs are addressed. 

The following are overviews of product categories based on business challenges being faced within organizations. Technical infrastructure and data management are also taken into account because any successful BI offering also requires the management of data assets:

  1. Reporting – organizations need reports and many still use standardized reporting solutions. Some BI vendors have reporting modules or specialize in reporting, while others are focused specifically on visualizations. 
  2. Dashboards – represent a big trend as they provide data representations and metrics in a visually interactive way. Many organizations like dashboards due to their highly interactive nature. Vendors offer varying levels of analytics within their dashboards. Some only visualize the data meaning that it needs to be stored with associated business rules separately, while others also offer analytical capabilities.
  3. Operational intelligence – some organizations require near real-time access to information. In these cases, operational intelligence becomes important so that relevant metrics can be updated on a regular basis with the flexibility to reflect the needs of the business. This means that different use cases will have different latency requirements.
  4. Advanced analytics – this is a broader category and could be divided further but for the purposes of this overview, it can remain a single category. A variety of analytics exist. Some organizations have complexities that require the management of many business rules and statistical algorithms while others want predictive and what if? capabilities. Certain solution providers provide targeted analytics while others are considered generalists – meaning they offer general capabilities but not many niche analytics.
  5. Data Warehousing – although some businesses are moving away from traditional data warehousing, the reality is that companies require a way to consolidate, centralize, and manage their analytical infrastructure. In some cases, a data warehouse is the most effective way. Even if it’s not, every organization evaluating BI should look at their data to identify how it needs to be managed.
  6. Data integration – helps transition data from one source to another. Within BI applications, it also serves as a transformation engine, can help provide quality control, and work towards providing a cohesive view of information assets both internal and external to the organization.

Some or all of these areas may apply when looking at advancing a BI initiative. The reality is that selecting the right solution means first getting the category right – selecting a reporting solution when advanced analytics are required will only lead to failure. Organizations need to be prepared to identify what their business and technical requirements are and how the market can best serve them – otherwise the risks for failure are too high.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

website statistics


Posted April 30, 2014 9:51 PM
Permalink | No Comments |

Mid-market organizations have always been familiar with service-based (hosted) offerings. Whether Salesforce, or ERP, Accounting, etc. types of applications, these organizations are used to hosted applications that store data off-site. What this means is that the new push to the cloud, isn’t necessarily so new for all organizations. Many are starting to take advantage of what the cloud has to offer, while other businesses are simply continuing or expanding their cloud deployments. The two things that have changed are the number of solutions available and the understanding of those offerings.

More awareness about the cloud

Although there is more awareness about cloud offerings, not all organizations want to have their data hosted or outside their firewall. In addition, some organizations misinterpret the concept of cloud-based offerings by not understanding the difference between where the data resides and whether it is just hosted or if services are attached. For instance, I have been told by more than one organization that they do not use any cloud offerings, only to find out through more analysis that a number of applications are cloud-based but not hosted as a service – in essence creating a differentiation between the level of control the customer has over the data they use.

With SMBs specifically, this makes a big difference. Many organizations want solutions with lower overall TCO and quicker times to implement, but still want to control their access to data and the overall use of the systems they deploy. Consequently, for these businesses, the cloud represents two levels of use:

  1. the hosting of and access to data off-site within a cloud environment
  2. the ability to manage that data or the applications the way the company desires, or alternatively, to be provided access to the data as a service through a hosted offering

Basically, a lot of the hype around cloud adoption and expanded offerings, simply means that SMBs have more choice when identifying the best way to leverage technology and find value through their data assets.

 

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

website statistics


Posted April 24, 2014 6:24 PM
Permalink | No Comments |

Technology projects always face unique challenges due to the fact that their success requires taking into account two viewpoints. The first being from the business point of view, identifying the business challenge and understanding how a solution will address specific needs. The second being an IT outlook and understanding the technology best fit. In some cases these will match and in other cases there will be discrepancies. The reality is that few companies will be able to avoid this disparity of views. However, if organizations can take responsibility for their portion of solution evaluation and collaborate to make the right business and technology decisions to support long term business goals, then both entities can develop a balance. 

Both business and IT need to take responsibility for their respective areas. This means that business units:

  1. develop an understanding of their business challenges and the causes of their pains
  2. evaluate the requirements based on their needs 
  3. understand the gaps between current technology use and why it doesn’t meet business needs
  4. make sure to look at must haves versus nice to haves
  5. create agreement among stakeholders who will also be using the new solution

In most cases IT supports and develops business applications meaning they require:

  1. an understanding of the business challenges being faced
  2. how these translate into features and solution capabilities and general technical requirements
  3. what the integration and storage requirements are and whether changes in infrastructure are required to support the new solution
  4. development effort and support for offerings being evaluated and the implications
  5. building up applications that meet business needs longer term

These aspects represent the first look at the responsibilities of each of these entities. The reality is that because they overlap, collaboration is required. How much and specific aspects will differ depending on the politics within the organization and the amount of collaboration that already exists. The best balance within organizations generally exist when both entities look at software projects as something that is the responsibility of both the business unit sponsoring the project and the IT department. This way both understand the value of each set of contributions. On the business side this includes all of the subject matter expertise, while the IT department develops the solution and supports the technology required to actualize the project. 

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

website statistics


Posted March 31, 2014 2:47 PM
Permalink | No Comments |

1 2 NEXT

   VISIT MY EXPERT CHANNEL

Search this blog
Categories ›
Archives ›
Recent Entries ›