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9 common BI software mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Aug. 13, 2014
According to Gartner, business Intelligence and analytics will remain a top focus for CIOs through 2017, with companies spending millions on traditional BI software, cloud BI services and now mobile apps and even social BI. However, as the type and number of BI solutions has grown, so too has the possibility of failure, of picking the wrong business intelligence software for your business problem or problems or of having end users not understand or properly use the solution.

"Companies underestimate the difficulty in changing corporate cultures to accept and use the output of BI systems," adds Ray Major, chief strategist, Halo Business Intelligence. "A successful implementation, regardless of which technology you choose, mandates that a company have both executive buy-in and end-user buy in. End-user buy-in requires a concerted and focused internal marketing and educational effort to highlight the benefits of the new BI system," he says. "To ensure successful adoption, companies can influence end-user behavior by tying individual employee goals to metrics driven results."

BI Mistake No. 3: Not factoring in security or legal requirements. "Don't make the mistake of forgetting about data governance [when selecting your business intelligence solution]," says Steve Farr, senior manager, Product Marketing, TIBCO Software, a provider of BI software. "Giving all the data to all the people and just letting them explore is unwise." To protect the company and your customers, "make sure your new BI system works in accordance with your company's data security policies and legal obligations."

BI Mistake No. 4: Being dazzled by features and forgetting about legacy systems and integration. "Most companies evaluate BI [solutions] in terms of the features available in the tool, such as reporting and querying, dashboards, exploration and discovery, OLAP and analyses, data visualization, predictive analytics and performance management KPIs (e.g., balanced scorecards)," says Kiriti Mukherjee, director of Information Management, Collaborative Consulting.

Yet they forget one very important feature: integration. "Integration with office applications (many tools integrate with Excel, but far fewer do so with Outlook), embedding BI objects in other applications or enterprise portals and integration with thin and thick clients, including with custom mobile devices," Mukherjee says.

They also forget about "integration capability with enterprise applications (such as ERP), cloud applications ( or contextual services (MDM, DQ or external services such as D&B)," Mukherjee says. The point: While features are important, it is also important to make sure the BI solution you choose integrates well with your other business systems.

BI Mistake No. 5: Not choosing a solution that can scale and adapt. "One of the biggest mistakes you can make is choosing a solution that's not agile," says Francois Ajenstat, director, Product Management, Tableau Software, a data visualization company. "At fast-moving, cutting-edge companies, self-service analytics are becoming the norm," he explains. "The monolithic infrastructure stack is crumbling in favor of solutions that can work with new data sources, and flexibility and usability from dashboards are key."

You also want to make sure the business intelligence solution you choose can grow, or adapt, to your business needs, so you do not have to look for a new BI solution right away.


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