As data warehousing matured in the 1990s, a considerable body of expertise developed around the task of aligning the use of Business Intelligence with organizational strategies. Steve and Nancy Williams from Decision Path Consulting explain that essentially, the alignment process is a matter of four activities:
- Understanding the strategic drivers of the competitive environment (private industry) or organizational environment (government and non-profit) and related business goals
- Determining the business questions for which answers are required in order to plan, budget, control, monitor, measure, assess, and/or improve organizational performance in relation to the strategic goals
- Identifying the tools, methods and analytical frameworks that can be used to support execution of key business processes and management of organizational performance
- Following well-established technical procedures for identifying, acquiring, integrating, staging, and delivering the data and information managers need
Steve Williams explains that while this alignment process is straightforward conceptually, there are a wide variety of challenges that must be overcome, as with any endeavor in IT. For example, working with business users of BI to determine their business questions (information requirements) is still an art despite the existence of structured requirements gathering methods. It is not uncommon for business users to be so focused on daily challenges that they have difficulty envisioning how BI can be leveraged to improve organizational performance.
On the technical side, there are a wide array of choices to be made with respect to architecture, methodology, tools, technologies, and processes – choices that impact project risk, total cost of ownership, and ultimately the magnitude of the “investment” portion of ROI. There is also the challenge of incorporating sufficient architectural flexibility to respond to new BI needs as strategic drivers evolve. While these strategic alignment challenges are significant, there is a substantial body of knowledge about how to go about meeting those challenges, and the methods used to achieve strategic alignment are effective and widely adopted. That said, strategic alignment, while necessary for achieving business value, is not sufficient in itself. The availability of strategically aligned BI does not guarantee its adoption to improve the results of critical business processes that determine the revenues and costs of the business. We must also engage in process engineering and change management.
At Ramco, our Banking and Analytics offering is a BI driven tool that can perform a comprehensive analysis of banking transactions and give meaningful insights about all the entities in the key product line. The tool also ensures that the bank can outperform competition in all core areas by instant information and intelligent analysis. This way, the bank now has more time to effectively plan sales and marketing initiatives and measure the success of previous marketing campaigns and product performance.
Watch this space for more on Process Engineering and Change Management.