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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!

A lot of the information that exists related to business intelligence and data warehousing assumes a certain level of knowledge. The technologies available are complex and require a high level of understanding and technical knowhow to identify which solution is a best fit. The reality for many SMBs, however, is that business units are becoming more essential for the decision making process and are actually driving many BI initiatives. What this means is that the way information is delivered needs to change in order to address the unique needs of business decision makers, and not always developers and technical related roles.

So, where do organizations turn when they are starting to explore the possibility of analytics but aren't sure where to start? This post will provide a starting point -- not necessarily for the specific knowledge required, but to identify the first steps and general considerations required before tackling BI. Getting started isn't always easy, but by breaking down considerations into easier chunks, organizations can get started on the road to broader and more effective analytics.

Here are 5 key considerations:

  1. Understand your top challenges and look for quick wins. This might sound intuitive but the reality is that organizations have many challenges and the severity of business pains being faced might differ based on different department perspectives and corporate roles. As a starting point, some cohesion is required to identify the top areas to start with. After all, getting solutions up and running that will be seen as valuable will help organizations justify future expansions and budget allocations.
  2. Evaluate the market place to match solutions with performance challenges. There are many solutions available and many that overlap in terms of capabilities and market positioning. Decision makers tend to make choices based on vendor marketing, previous implementations in other companies, or recommendations from friends. All of these are valid to a point, but businesses need to go further to really make sure that software selection goes beyond a high level analysis.
  3. Understand data. Big data is a term that is becoming synonymous with managing large, complex, and diverse data sets. Gaining true visibility means looking at the value proposition of information assets, how they interrelate, and where gaps in performance lie. In essence, although the front-end business applications that are based on dashboards and visualizing analytical information, the reality is that data is the key aspect of any BI initiative in relation to getting out insights.
  4. Really understand data! This means looking beyond where it comes from to identifying what is required to manage information across the organization over time. Consider data quality, new types of data, location intelligence, how to better meet the needs of customers, etc. are all areas that are actually data related.
  5. Develop a gap analysis. Understanding these areas provides a first step towards BI adoption. Matching data and business requirements to what actually exists within the companies can help organizations identify their starting points. In some cases, a technical infrastructure or parts of it might be reusable. And if not, identifying the gaps will provide a greater understanding of what needs to be managed, integrated, and the hows and whys associated with the process.

By looking at these areas, businesses can get started on the road to better business insights.

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.

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Posted October 21, 2013 9:45 PM
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