As organizations continue to invest in business intelligence and analytics in order to improve and drive business performance, it is imperative that they do not become too technically oriented to the extent that investment in these tools fails to deliver the required information and knowledge necessary for creating and preserving value.
Used properly, business intelligence and analytic tools can help managers collect, store, analyze and interpret vast amounts of data which in turn helps them gain positive insights capable of improving tactical, operational and strategic decision making. On the contrary, if the company does not have an information strategy that is clearly aligned to corporate objectives the chances of achieving these objectives and improving business performance are limited.
In order to take advantage of the proliferation of big data and its merits, many organizations are investing heavily in the creation of data warehouses. The idea is to give the organization a central information platform which ensures consistent, integrated and valid data across source systems and business areas. Raw data on itself rarely delivers value to the organization. It has to be transformed into information and then knowledge for it to make sense for decision support.
Unfortunately, many investments in information systems continuously fail to deliver the desired results. This is due to the fact that management do not fully understand and comprehend the overall strategy of the business and as such investments in information systems are misaligned. In other words there is a huge gap between the organization’s information strategy and its corporate strategy.
When there is this disjoint, information technology and systems managers tend to become more technically oriented and lack the business acumen to make IT investments an enabler of business strategy execution. The danger of being too technically oriented is that operating and maintaining the company’s information systems’ structure often end up being an objective itself.
Because the management team lacks understanding of the value-adding element of a data warehouse, such investments end up becoming a huge cost. Even data of poor quality and useless to the organization will be collected and stored. It is therefore important that the company does have and information strategy that clearly uses the data warehouse as a means of attaining business objectives.
To ensure that your organization does not become a too much technically oriented, you need to first and foremost make sure that processes are in place that promote coordination between the business and the data warehouse. Analysts play an important role in disseminating invaluable information and knowledge from the data warehouse to the business decision makers. It is therefore critical that organizations invest sufficiently in the people side of the information system if they are to reap positive results.
Remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Even if the company invests huge sums of money in its data warehouse but lacks analytical competences able to contribute the required analysis and business insights for executing strategies and improving business performance, such a situation means that the investment made by the organization is in fact merely a cost, as nothing valuable comes out of it.
In today’s information age where possession of information and knowledge is a key differentiator, organizations must enhance their analytical capabilities. Those employed in the role of business analysis should move beyond managing data and delivering reports, tables or lists within a few days to being able to retrieve and process data. To successfully do this, analysts must understand the business processes they are supporting and how the delivered information or the delivered knowledge can make a value-adding difference at a strategic level.
In summary, closing the gap between technically oriented and business oriented environments requires management to treat information as a strategic asset. In such an environment, analysts understand and are able to convey to the business the potential of using information and knowledge as competitive parameters. Furthermore, the analysts are able to continuously engage themselves in dialogue with the business, detect and create synergies across functions. Instead of isolating themselves to the domains of IT, they see themselves in the bigger context of the business.