I have covered the business intelligence market for several years and have had the opportunity to work with organizations to help them get their business intelligence projects up and running. Behind all of the research, case studies, and consulting projects, the drivers are always similar – organizations need a way to gain insight into what is happening within their organization. Whether it is what is going right, what is going wrong, learning about customers, overcoming data silos, or governing access, the bottom line is the same. Organizations require a way to access secure, trusted, accurate, valid information in a way that can be leveraged to make the right business decisions.

This concept is nothing new and is pretty obvious. Even so, many companies still struggle with data consolidation and overall visibility into the opportunities that exist and challenges to be overcome.

Some industry and research estimates put data preparation at 80% of the effort required to get an analytics project up and running. What this means is that development teams spend a lot of time to get systems up and running by making sure that data is accessible and stored in a way that can be accessed for analytics. Unfortunately, none of this effort matters if it isn’t usable by analysts and business users. The value of information is the outcome, not the data itself. Adding to this is the changing market landscape in which many of the business intelligence project sponsors have business roles and are no longer CIOs or employees with a technical focus.

This change also requires a shift in the way solutions are delivered and marketed. Technology is always important and serves as a backbone. And although targeting technologists is important to ensure the best solution and infrastructure choices are leveraged, the goal of better insight and information visibility is to create better efficiencies, lower costs, work better with and for customers, suppliers, and to increase profits. All of these are business oriented requirements and many solution providers miss the boat and still focus on technology and not enough on business value.

This does not mean that case study presentations are not valuable. Learning from others definitely provides inherent value to organizations. At the same time, organizations require more than an understanding of how technology works and what other customers are doing. To fully take advantage of information assets and gain visibility into data, organizations needs to understand what value any given solution can provide and how other companies with similar environments are taking advantage of technology to gain business value.  This includes a step-by-step look at how businesses are leveraging technology to get the value they need and what the tangible benefits are.

Overall, technology has finally caught up to the needs of business. Flexibility exists enabling companies to leverage cloud solutions, pay the way they want, and put together the solution environment that best meets their needs. At the same time, there is still a gap between analytics environments and the valuable outcomes of applying them. Businesses looking at starting or expanding their analytics adoption should make sure that they gain the insight required to gain quantifiable benefits and not just focus on the technology available or buzz words that abound.