5 Barriers That Are Holding Your Business Intelligence Back

Aug 27, 2014

Are you getting the most out of your investment in business intelligence? A common misconception in the corporate world is that to increase the value of your business intelligence efforts, you just need to throw more data at it.

Purchasing data, tying it to big data, doing more analysis – these are all strategies that are often deployed. However, if you are not maximizing what you have and don’t have a solid system in place, you may actually degrade the value through confusion and inconclusive or conflicting findings.

Man beating head against wall

There are gold nuggets in your data and business intelligence solution already. You just need to ensure you are getting all of them. The following five barriers can hide those nuggets from you.

If you don’t have a business intelligence solution yet, but are considering an investment in one, these are some things to be looking out for to ensure you get the most from your investment.

1. Paralysis by Analysis

You may have heard the term before, maybe you’re even experiencing it right now. We see this quite often. There is always just one more question you have when analyzing your information. Many managers keep digging for the answers to those next questions, only to be rewarded with more questions based on what they just learned.

Seeking the answers to these questions is prudent until it puts you into a holding pattern and prevents you from making decisions and taking action. BI tools like QlikView help greatly in getting quick answers to the questions using the data that is available.

In addition to getting quick answers using BI tools, you have to learn when you have enough information to make the decision and then act.

2. The Continual Need for Perfect Data

Do you need to have perfect data or information before you can make a decision? You’re not alone. However, data is never perfect; primarily because humans entered it and humans are not perfect.

What is really required is an agreed upon level of data quality. If this level is maintained in the data then you can use it in analysis, make decisions and take action. What that agreed upon data quality level is will be different for each organization, but it must be established up front.

Once decided upon, analysts and managers can factor in the tolerance in their analysis and decisions. For instance, one customer of ours has set a tolerance of 1% against the financial statements. If the data is balanced to within the 1% then they can rely on it to make decisions and projections.

3. Lack of Data

You must be able to access the data needed in order to make decisions. Two obstacles may prevent this. The first is that the data has not been captured. The second is that you have been capturing it, but can’t access it and don’t know the quality of it. If you are trying to improve operational proficiency you need data on your processes, machines and people: What is the throughput of machine A? What is the current scrap rate and how has that been trending? And so forth.

If you don’t have the data now, work with what you have and develop a plan to capture what you need going forward. Everyone has to begin somewhere.

4. Unable to Learn What the Data is Saying

This is a big one. All too often we have data – are buried under reports – but it doesn’t help us make critical decisions and take action to propel our businesses forward. The problems is that our data isn’t telling us its story. The story is there, but until we implement solutions that allow our data to speak, we just have a bunch of useless reports.

5. Understanding What Your Data is

Some call these standards or data dictionaries. The important thing is not what they’re called, but what they represent – a common understanding of what a piece of data is or means. Not having this can lead to confusion, or worse, decisions made based on an incorrect assumption.

Often the definition of a field can be different from one group of users or departments to the next. Getting on the same page is critical.

If you’re struggling trying to get value from your data and business intelligence efforts or are looking to get even more out of them, removing one or more of these barriers will help you uncover the gold that is hiding below the surface.

For more information on how BizXcel can help with your BI, reporting and analytic needs, call toll-free 1-866-905-2228 or email info@bizxcel.com.