Last year I spent a lot of time looking at cloud analytics and how organizations are adopting and growing their cloud deployments. In addition, I had the opportunity to see how companies are implementing analytics more broadly and how solution providers are meeting customer needs by creating more flexible offerings. Through all of this, there were overarching ideas and success factors that could be easily applied to both cloud and on-premises implementations.

Below are 5 of the transferrable resolutions that all organizations looking at analytics should consider and apply within their projects. Throughout the next couple of months I will be expanding upon each to share more of the insights I have gained over the past year, and which will hopefully help you with your BI and analytics strategies moving forward.

Importance of tying analytics to overall business strategy

Sometimes organizations lose site of the big picture when they implement a large analytics initiative and focus on the data and metrics. Although that is part of it, to implement analytics successfully, you need to start with what your overall business strategy and goals are and look at how enhanced data visibility supports your broader targets. Basically, analytics should support your organization’s business strategy and not the other way around.

Plan for potential integration/migration challenges 

Whether implementing analytics in the cloud or on-premises, large data volumes and business rule complexities create unique challenges for successful data integration. For cloud platforms, you need to consider movement between on-premises, hybrid, and cloud data storage and any unique requirements that may exist based on platforms and data source location. However, because more and more organizations have diverse infrastructures, you may need to evaluate potential data migration challenges depending on the operational and transactional data sources and how and where they integrate with broader data warehousing and big data projects.

Evaluate security and break down perceived versus real obstacles to implementation

Within cloud implementations, organizations list security as both an obstacle and opportunity in recent surveys conducted by EMA. By looking at your security environment, you can identify where weaknesses are and look at requirements for your industry, platform, etc. Within cloud environments specifically, providers build their platforms with security in mind first. Therefore, many security concerns end up being perceived challenges versus real ones. When you look at enhancing security, make sure that your concerns are real so that you do not waste time with perceived obstacles that have already been addressed by your solution provider.

Analytics adoption/project expansion should be tied to business process improvements

In addition to aligning business strategy to analytics, leveraging business intelligence also means making business better. In most organizations, there are gaps in performance, lack of visibility, unhappy customers, etc. Part of the way to improve the internal workings within the organization is to ensure that analytics and business process improvement are tightly coupled. Making sure analytics is not only about data movement, reports, and metrics, but also about how people can leverage information more effectively, helps create an environment that supports constant improvements. The way in which people go about their daily tasks is affected by how data is consumed. Taking this into account while evaluating analytics requirements can create a better solution and overall work environment.

Start small – get quick wins with plans for expansion

The best way to ensure analytics success is to make sure you take an iterative approach to development and design. Starting small and building up an analytics environment is the best way to make sure that you are getting requirements and applications right, without having to go back and redesign parts of your solution, wasting time and money. Organizations that get ahead of themselves and try to take on more than they can handle, end up getting overwhelmed and suffer from scope creep and potential project failure.