People Power: The Three Steps to Creating In-House Business Intelligence Experts
business intelligence experts

Written by: Phil Husbands

My core interests and specialist expertise are in enterprise data strategy, data capability development and data-driven organisational change. My work focuses on building the operational and people-focused capabilities, which are essential for ensuring that data enables businesses to work more effectively, make better decisions and achieve their goals.
People Power: The Three Steps to Creating In-House Business Intelligence Experts

Business Intelligence (BI) is big business. In fact, an article published by Forbes found that 89% of company leaders believe data will revolutionise the way their organisation operates in the same way the Internet did.

There is so much data available, organisations can often find themselves drowning in it. Yet, this shouldn’t be viewed as a problem, but an opportunity. An opportunity to put BI in the hands of your staff, giving them the power to implement data-driven decisions that improve the way your business does things.

However, to successfully deliver your BI solution and achieve real business value, your staff need to be on board from the start. Here’s how you can create people powered BI:

Step One: Adoption

Giving your staff access to the BI they need, when they need it, not only supports their own decision making but it allows your organisation as a whole to make better decisions.

When looking at your organisation’s goals, and determining the BI solution needed to achieve them, it’s crucial that the right people are involved from the beginning of the process. Truly Intelligent Businesses 4dDX framework provides methods for aligning your processes with your people, and your people with your BI technology, so they can get the right information and use it in the right way.

People drive performance but if there’s no interest held on their part, the chances of them feeling enthusiastic towards your BI solutions are slim. When people feel as if they are contributing to a project, they’re more likely to be motivated towards adopting changes, so involve them from the word go. Equip your people with the skills and confidence they need with the right training and support, and empower them with a full understanding of how your BI solution works and why it will benefit them in their role

Invest in your people, rather than employing a temporary external solution. Enable the expertise to grow inside your business and create proactive in-house BI experts along the way. When your people have the knowledge they need to succeed, they’ll be firmly on the path towards achieving your organisation’s goals.

Step Two: Interpretation

When your people are coached on how to accurately interpret the data presented to them in their reports and dashboards, the more effective your BI solutions will be. It may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how frequently we come across issues like this.

Sure, the ready-made reports your existing BI software produces may look impressive but, when you delve deeper, do your people really know how to interpret the information properly? If your current team of BI consumers are unsure how to read into the data, where will they find the answer? It can be a costly mistake if they can’t gain the valuable insight they need.

For successful performance, you need to know your business inside out. In our previous blog post on pre-mortem KPIs, we looked at the value presented by KPIs when they are used to indicate a situation that could happen in the future, rather than waiting for the problem to occur and then rectifying things.

If the retail industry, it’s imperative to understand how the behaviour of customers, such as their average spend, influences the effectiveness of business operations. Here, it is vital to see how a reduction in average spend for example, could affect other KPIs such as stock turnover. If data aren’t being interpreted correctly, there’s much less chance of preventing attributed future failings or issues. 

Step Three: Application

The final step in achieving people powered BI is the application of your BI solutions. Once your in-house BI consumers have gathered the right information via your BI technology, they’ll then need to apply it to business processes with confidence.

An effective BI solution allows for improved business processes – your organisation’s raw data must be gathered so that it maintains progress towards achieving your goals. Achieving true, high-value BI is down to the level of understanding your people have on how to use your BI tools. If users feel daunted by your software, they may shy away from using it to its full advantage. Again, meaningful involvement of end users and developing a strong understanding of the value of the BI solutions is crucial.

Instead of simply keeping an eye on what’s happening, your BI must work to uncover existing and potential flaws. The key to success is using data to continuously improve the way your business and its people do things. In short, BI answers any ‘what if’ questions that your organisation has so that your strategies deliver, or even exceed, your business targets.

As well as building a successful and ever-evolving process model, BI should allow you to discover the bigger business picture. BI adds the ‘why’ to your ‘what if’ questions to establish better productivity and, ultimately, better ROI. As such, when your team have been able to gather and interpret the information in a way that enables them to encourage better decision making, then you’ve achieved people powered BI.

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