Very few companies are implementing business intelligence (BI) solutions the right way. Exchanging speed for quality, they’re making huge mistakes along the way.

For just over a year now, I’ve been touring the United States, teaching courses on business intelligence solutions. What I’ve noticed is that, no matter where I go, companies are suffering from the same problems. Most companies think that because they can access their data, it’s the same as translating their data. They tend to send folks to these events that aren’t interested in the true knowledge behind the data and miss fundamental aspects of the transformation process. This leads to poor performing ETL (extract, transform, load), dashboards that are unusable, a lackluster BI roadmap, and an overall lack of business value.

So how do we truly obtain business value with your business intelligence solutions? We need a few key components:

  1. The business needs a data warehouse – We need to be able to centralize and store our data in one spot.
  2. Data must be manageable and interpretable – We need to be able to slice and dice, and drill down on certain data points that require deeper analysis.
  3. Visualize – We need to be able to translate our analysis into something that is readable by others so we can collaborate with our team.

In my experience, these three modules are fundamental. But we’re still missing something essential, as the tools we use only get us downfield. We still need to “score” with our data and make something useful come of it. We need to bring it to the users and allow them to interact freely with good, clean data.

The companies I am interacting with at these events think that the tool itself is the solution. This results in users who don’t familiarize themselves enough with the data and the transformation process to be truly effective. I see users that can re-create existing reports, but can’t be effective in a creative or innovative realm. They can’t take their company to the next level. This isn’t the company’s fault and it likely isn’t the user’s fault. This is the salespersons fault. They think that selling us on a tool is the answer. But the answer is not the tool – the answer is in the analysis. It’s in the extrapolation and the identification of opportunity.

FlexManage Tip: I’ve found a tool that gets us most of the way there: Microsoft Power BI. To learn more about the magic that is Power BI, check out a previous blog post I wrote, 5 reasons we LOVE Microsoft Power BI. This will get you fully up-to-speed on the platform.

Keep in mind that the tool itself will not add business value. We need tools that enable us to use our brains in the most effective and insightful ways. The other piece to the puzzle is to find the right people. The right people will own those decisions around BI and make the data usable. We need to decide what is more important: having the data or using the data. Rushing and disregarding a proper plan is like putting a bandaid on a broken leg. It doesn’t solve the problem! Sometimes we need to re-evaluate our data pulls and architecture. Sometimes we need to transform our data and manage that relationship to make it meaningful. Many companies are continuing to miss huge plays to discover opportunity by not filling data analytics positions with the right people. They lack BI leadership. They have leaders who are grandfathered into positions who may have the technical skills, but lack the design skills to make something amazing happen.

I would encourage your company, as you go forward, to insightfully observe your employees. If you see someone who has the potential and untapped skill to accomplish the great feat of creating and innovating true business value through data, invest in their proper training on Power BI and data analytics. It only takes one willful person to make a major impact in your business and allow us to truly learn from our data. Make sure you have a team of engineers, data scientists, and intelligent business users who will help your business drive value.

If you or someone at your company has a desire to meet people who can make a difference, get ahold of us here at FlexManage. We have staff that has been diligently trained and certified on the latest technologies and cloud services. We have data scientists and big data specialists in place. They are ready to have those key discussions that will take you and your business to the next level. We look forward to hearing from you.