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.

I have worked in the business intelligence market for almost 15 years and as an analyst covering the industry for over 10 years. One of the things I notice all the time is that both organizations and solution providers focus on technology and product capabilities when evaluating solutions, whereas tying business strategy to technology tends to remain a secondary priority.

Yes – technology and infrastructure are important. Organizations need to understand data migration and integration within a data warehousing environment, how information will be stored, the types of analytics required, what metrics will be measured, and solution delivery. Sometimes, BI teams get bogged down with all of the business and technical requirements to develop, deliver, and manage analytics and they forget that without defined business value, measuring ROI, TCO, and creating better process efficiencies become a challenge. As technology becomes more flexible and integration challenges lessen, it becomes easier for businesses to expand their focus towards business strategy instead of only being technology focused.

For instance, technology projects should be driven by a business challenge and then a plan needs to be developed to identify how technology will support the organization’s business strategy. Many companies want to achieve better customer retention or increase overall market share. Understanding data and gaining more information visibility can help companies get there. The question becomes, how does an organization build a system that not only gives them visibility into their data and business processes, but also supports taking action and making changes that support overall business goals? Doing this effectively requires more than a set of metrics, reports, or dashboards. It requires a more collaborative approach to software development, data access, and business process management.

The bottom line is that business intelligence success requires more than access to good technology. It requires involving the right people and utilizing an agile approach to development that includes flexible technology adoption, high levels of information visibility and people who understand the value of data and how it can be leveraged to support better business. And most importantly, BI success and adoption should be based on leveraging technology to support business goals.