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Many organizations have adopted BI tools in quantity, buying thousands of user licenses to deploy up to 50,000 seats of some of the leading BI tools. There’s a growing body of evidence that many of these licenses remain unused, and the majority fall short in meeting the expectations of their promise. Often the main benefit from deployment is merely a secure method of distributing standard reports.

The following “Top ten ways to improve your BI initiative” will help you dust-off and maximize your BI investment and provide suggestions for improving overall BI results.

1. Don’t run Your BI initiative in a vacuum

Many business intelligence projects focus too heavily on role-based distribution of data; the more senior the employee, the more data they can access. Remove this paradigm, providing employees access to all the information they require unless there is a compelling reason not to.

2. Determine the action you want people to take

Research indicates that most BI reports – because they look back at history after the event – are used to justify decisions that have already been made. Avoid this pitfall by thinking through what decisions you want people to make and when. This will help you to decide what information needs to be delivered in what timeframe.

3. Don’t blindly recreate what’s already there

Just because a report exists today, doesn’t mean that you should blindly recreate it when you upgrade or migrate to a new tool or dashboard. Very often the business will use only a tiny fraction of the reports. For those reports that are still needed, consider the information that is really required, and how best to present it given the capabilities of your new tool.

4. Identify which reports aren’t used (most) and turn them off

Some BI teams experiment by turning reports off to see if people notice. Try it – you’ll be surprised just how many reports you don’t need in your organization!

5. Design from the business back to technology

Most BI tools make it easy to set up the end user environment by translating the database dictionary into something more user friendly. As a result, IT staff often build BI systems by simply renaming the structures that exist in the database. This is guaranteed to make the eventual system the business sees too hard to use. Start with the language the business uses, and work back to the database, not the other way around.


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