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Business intelligence encompasses gathering pertinent data and installing tools that allow managers to retrieve the information and use it in making decisions. Many consultants in this field point out that the implementation of a business intelligence system is as important as developing the tools to gather and display the data. Tips for successful business intelligence implementation include having a clear understanding of the operational benefits the system will provide, having support from top managers in the company, creating an action team, providing effective training on the use of the tools, and creating a measurement system to provide ongoing evaluation.
One of the benefits business intelligence provides is better strategic and tactical use of existing data warehoused in a variety of locations in a company’s information technology system. This data can range from sales reports to fleet maintenance records to human resources employee files and more. A business intelligence system overlays the firm’s information technology infrastructure with a tool, often called a dashboard, where authorized users can directly access warehoused data.
It is important to begin the business intelligence implementation process with a clear understanding of the operational benefits access to this data is to provide. By knowing how the data will be used, the problems it can help solve and the decision making it can support, it is possible to develop a return on investment calculation that allows top managers to estimate the benefit of the system versus its cost.
A typical business intelligence implementation effort touches almost every aspect of an enterprise. If a firm determines that creating such a system is cost effective, the business intelligence implementation process must begin with developing support at the highest levels of the company’s management. With the support from a chief executive officer or similar level, the employees tasked with implementing the business intelligence system will have sufficient authority to work across all departments in the firm and to require support at the mid-manager level. This support typically is considered vital to a successful business intelligence implementation.
Business intelligence systems often are developed and implemented with outside consultants. A good tip for enhancing prospects of success for implementing the system is to have a team of company employees trained in how it works, the benefits it provides and the use of its tools. This internal center of excellence provides important initial training and ongoing support as employees use the new tools.
An ongoing component of effective business intelligence implementation is a system to measure the effectiveness it in helping the company’s operations. This ties the implementation back to the initial step of understanding what operational benefits the system is to provide. The use of the business intelligence and the tools used to display it should be compared to the expected benefits, evaluated and adjusted as necessary to achieve goals.
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