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Success with Business Intelligence - Don't Underestimate the Value of Management Commitment

We spend a fair amount of time talking to people about drivers that lead to successful Business Intelligence (BI) implementations and drivers that progress organizations towards analytical maturity.  The most important drivers for success, in our experience, have more to do with organizational readiness, willingness to change and support of senior management than they do with a specific BI tool.

I recently came across a study published by MIT Sloan Management  called "Creating Business Value with Analytics" that is consistent with these views.  The study, found here, provides great insight into the organizational and technical factors associated with analytically-minded companies.  The study also explains how companies can and should be categorized based on the extent to which analytics are imbedded within the organizational decision process.  This last part is very much in line with our thoughts around BI capability.

Specifically, the authors found that 58% of respondents were "gaining competitive advantage from analytics", however, the authors noted that most of these respondents represented organizations that already use analytics for business decisions (e.g. they were analytically mature).  So, what about the companies that are not quite as mature, but still want to work towards an analytical approach to decisions?  The answer was that these companies can and should begin by finding departmental solutions that are great candidates for BI and analytical decisioning.  Once these initial projects prove themselves, others in the organization, including Executive management, will get behind the program, thus increasing adoption and results.

In summary, data-oriented cultures have three characteristics:

  1. "Analytics is used as a strategic asset;
  2. Management supports analytics throughout the organization;
  3. Insight are widely available to those who need them"

The study also offered guidance for companies that lacked the organizational readiness (specifically a lack of management support).  For these companies, maturity and success can be achieved through a "specialized" approach, which is akin to a departmental strategy towards analytics.  For companies run by management that embraces the value to business analytics, a more "collaborative" approach can be taken.

We also like how the study explained the three characteristics of competitive analytics, as it is very similar to our own approach towards organizational readiness and the DELTA Model.  The three characteristcs, or capabilities, are data-oriented culture, information management and analytics expertise.  LIke a three-legged stool, all characteristics must be in place for a company to acheive competitive advantages through business analtyics.