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Guest View: Cost-effective business intelligence for business users

JY Pook - Vice President, Asia Pacific, Tableau Software | Oct. 23, 2014
It is important to note that smarter use of information resources does not necessarily mean high-investment and complex business intelligence software.

Leading business enterprises have been tapping on business intelligence solutions to gain insights into markets and operations. These tools not only help empower decision makers with critical information when required, but also allow organizations to improve on the way they collaborate and make use of information.

Non-profit and governments organizations too are finding business intelligence tools useful. The Singapore government is currently harnessing the value of data to transform service delivery to its citizens. Data is a powerful tool to better the lives of citizens, enhance policy decision making and provide feedback for better programs by understanding trends, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, a Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee, Ministry of Communications and Information in Singapore said recently.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that smarter use of information resources does not necessarily mean high-investment and complex business intelligence software. Business intelligence projects do not always require specialist consultants, proprietary data stores, and lengthy deployment times. Also, you do not need to be an information technology expert to lead a business intelligence project.

I have seen many business leaders/users successfully implementing business intelligence solutions on a modest budget in a relatively short period of time. How do they do it? They followed seven major principles:

1.    Define the problem clearly and avoid scope creep

Scope creep often causes projects to go over budget. Very often, this is due to failure in planning and setting unclear parameters. For business intelligence projects, teams have to focus on solving the problem/problems what they want to gain from the data right planning stage and stay on track after that. This means that users need to first clearly define the objectives and goals, and then document and control the parameters of the project. By clearly delineating the user requirements and scope, the possibility of the project scope creeping up and spilling over the planned budget is minimized.

2.    Identify users' specific issues and needs -- solve their problems

Once again, the focus is on user requirements here. Cost-effective business intelligence solutions should be user driven and user defined. At Tableau, we have seen customers break down the problem by user types. Project teams speak with end users from various departments to understand what their pain points are when using their current tools.

They also gather end users' 'wish lists' to understand what would be ideal for them in the new solution. It may be possible to deliver a solution that would meet every end user's requirement but at the very least, this helps to drive the project in the right direction.

Also, by end users, I mean the users who are creating the reports as well and not just those who are reading or using the reports. This helps to in understanding the analytics and report creation process.

 

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