One of the biggest reasons a BI initiative fails is lack of ownership by the "business" units of an organization. A recent article in DM Review provides seven recommendations in an attempt to remedy the situation. The article provides a few new and interesting ways to think about this problem, that I like, however, the authors lay it out a little more verbosely than I would like. I'll summarize the main points below:
The authors do a good job articulating the causes of user satisfaction or dissatisfaction with BI:
- The pace at which users receive answers to questions.
- The degree of relevance between the answer and the question asked. (An answer with little or no relevance to the user's question is as good as no information at all.)
- The (perception of) reliability of the answer. (Do I trust the answer enough to use it?)
- The cost of information compared to its value. (Users are not interested in answers where the cost exceeds the value of the information.)
The article continues with seven recommendations to resolve these problems, however, I'm not so sure that – in the end – the recommendations squarely address the causes articulated above. Still, the recommendations in their own right are worthy of consideration. For purposes of clarity I will paraphrase the recommendations in my own words:
- Create an organizational unit that is responsible for the design, development, and support of your business intelligence initiative.
- Funding for the BI foundation should come from IT or another central budget source, while funding for individual subject area reporting and analysis should come from the business unit.
- Develop a federated enterprise data warehouse – make sure it is flexible and can grow as the business unit's needs grow.
- Use technology that helps you manage the BI foundation when data structure changes are needed.
- Use an iterative approach to BI application development – seek frequent user feedback and deploy in days and weeks, not months and years.
- BI tools provided by your enterprise software provider (ERP) are useful for creating an Operational Data Store (ODS), not an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW).
- Create a data governance group that is led by your BI Organizational Unit.
I'd be interested to hear what others think about some of these recommendations and the counter arguments they may have.