October 28th, 2020
Business Intelligence (BI) helps you understand how your company is doing so you can adapt and adjust. Successful BI requires the support of well-engaged people from across the organization, understanding and defining your business goals, and defining the measurements for each goal.
When we talk with people about Business Intelligence (BI) programs, we almost always hear these two questions first:
a) “What is Business Intelligence?”
b) “Is BI right for my organization?”
If you have these questions, this BI Basics post is for you.
1. Who needs BI?
If you want to understand company performance, how is your organization doing and why, then BI is for you.
People use BI to answer questions like:
- How is our business performing?
- Are we doing our best?
- Where can we make changes that will help us achieve our new objective?
- How does our performance today compare with how we were doing 15 days ago? 30 days? 1 year?
- If we’re at the top of our game, where do we go next?
2. What is BI?
Business Intelligence (BI) is a set of systems and processes designed to generate timely, accurate, relevant, and actionable information. People use BI information to understand and improve company performance.
The rise of Artificial intelligence and Machine learning can expand an organization’s ability to leverage BI information – but people, a.k.a. Human In The Loop (HITL) – remain an important component in some information processing.
Remember: Smart automation cannot replace essential activities implemented by well-informed people. It is the people (not the technologies) at your company who can use information generated by BI to create actionable steps for managing company performance.
3. Where is BI successful?
Success is achieved where people know how to (and actually do) use BI information to support daily decision-making. No matter how well constructed, your BI program cannot succeed if people do not take advantage of the information that BI yields.
A healthy BI program needs champions who can help sustain interest and solicit input. A Federated BI Team ensures engagement and support across the company, including representatives from business and technical groups.
A thriving BI program needs champions: people who can actively promote the program to raise awareness and stir excitement. Your BI champions encourage everyone to learn, participate and make use of BI information for daily decision making. People who participate in the BI program as it evolves provide critical feedback that enhances ongoing BI development, and ensures the relevancy of end results.
Federated BI Team
BI is not the purview of one group. Rather, success is forged by the Federated BI Team, which consists of people from across the organization who understand (are trained in) BI systems and processes. Your Federated BI Team has the capacity to identify knowledge-holders and bring them to the table, break down input and ideas, build user stories, prioritize requirements, and identify the specific objectives required to work toward each goal.
4. When is BI the right approach?
When you need a complete picture of company performance to help you understand trends while they occur, you need BI.
Business Intelligence is a systematic approach for analyzing company performance data in real time. BI information helps to establish a baseline of normal operations, so companies can compensate for any operational inconsistencies.
This is essential: once a company defines a baseline for operations, it’s easier to see fluctuations earlier, understand which adjustments are needed, and then measure the effects of each action.
Continue to Part II of Business Intelligence in Plain English to learn about why and how to use BI in your organization.
Got more questions? Tell us in the comments.