Business Intelligence: How well do you 'KNOW' your business?
Information in your computer systems is more than just a record of business transactions, customer information and organizational data ... it is, properly mapped and mined, an invaluable resource for understanding the deeper nature of your enterprise.
Every business owner/operator needs to know what is going in their business. Can you wait for the cyclical reports (weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual) to look into the operations of your business to insure you're functioning as effectively as possible. Are you taking advantage of changes in your market, clients, product lines, supply chain, employee productivity or any one of the hundreds of functional aspects of your operations?
Mining your business involves a few key evolutions. The first is, of course, due diligence. We recommend you review 'Worst Practices in Business Intelligence' (©2007) by Kevin R. Quinn of Information Builders as a critical step, with particular attention to 'Worst Practice #3: Assuming a Data Warehouse Will Solve All Information Access and Delivery'.
- Take a rigorous, disciplined inventory of data in your existing systems. Evaluate and catalog every data item: type, format, availability, existing data structures. Mining data begins with finding out what you have at hand.
- Plan your access and how you will bring those valuable resources to surface. Pulling data, transactional and operational, into a high availabilty Data Warehouse is the most commonly sold solution but there are powerful alternative options that need to be considered carefully. Simply dumping your data is just that ... a simplistic solution.
- Build a system of reports that capture and present the information for analysis. With the proper toolset not only can you retrieve operational data in near real-time view, but you can empower line managers and executives to ask questions on a 'ad hoc' basis allowing them to define, retrieve, and analyze operational and status reports based on information they define as relevant.
It is not a project undertaken lightly. It requires experienced analysts to successfully construct and configure the tools to extract, transform and load data coming from multiple systems into a fast, reliable, scalable framework. Creating the reporting system, involves analysis and skilled optimization of the reports to deliver them quickly and effectively. It is challenging and requires commitment but done with expertise you will have what you need most, insight into what is happening and uncovering the challenges & opportunities that await your expertise.