Business Intelligence StrategyBusiness Intelligence for Small and Middle size Enterprises By Olimjon Suleymanov Grenoble Graduate School of Business
Table of content: 1. General Overview : why mid-market companies are adopting BI Traditional view of BI Implications for SME’s What makes BI available for SMEs? 2. Criteria for the successful implementation of BI 3. Solutions available in a market Traditional BI / In-house Open Source On Demand/In the cloud Operational Data Analysis 4. Conclusion
Traditionally Business Intelligence was overviewed as a process, tools and technologies required toturn the data into information and information into knowledge and knowledge into plans that drivethe actions that improve business performance1.The structure of Business Intelligence was different from one company to another, in this inessreport I will present a basic structure of Business intelligence as it used to be in the past. Itconsisted of 4 layers: on the bottom we have the Data Infrastructures-this is where the this winformation is stored-information and data from operational systems is collected and informationstored in this layer. Most of the BI software products and vendors will subscribe to the datawarehouse approach as a part of their data environment – in fact they will insist that it’smandatory.The next layer is Data integration It is the layer where data is turned in to information by integration.extraction and integration processes, unfortunately in some cases information is generatedthrough different types of processes The data can be collected directly from processes. taoperational/transactional data sources or from Data warehouses. This will create errors in .data sources.Once the information in a data warehouse th ormation then information can be analyzed andinterpreted, usually it happens by creating algor algorithms.
If the company wants to do more than just simple reporting, then they will need to buildOnline Analytical Processing cubes: a multi dimensional view of information that allowsusers to drill the data. The problem with such an approach is that we need to know theparameters of the cube before building it. If the parameters are not identified early, newfeatures will need to be added in order to build the OLAP process again2.The next level of the BI framework diagram above refers to the analytical environment,which is a domain of business users who use the analytical tools to query, report, analyze,mine, visualize and most importantly act on the data. Analytical tools allow business usersto either view a report as a static document or navigate the report (search, drill down…) tochange the view of the level of detail they see.These types of processes were limiting Business Intelligence to the types of organizationwhich could an implement this kind of infrastructure.Implications for the SMEsWhy business Intelligence was not available for SMEs3?• High Pries Prices were too high; many companies could not even afford to enter the BI scene.• Low flexibility Once the BI is implemented, it was almost impossible to change the criteria’s or the structure of BI within a reasonable time; however the business needs are changes very frequently.• Large Infrastructural Requirements Requirements of infrastructure were dependant on an organization’s ability to invest in its IT infrastructure.• Time implementation consideration According to Gantry group, 83% of BI implementations take 6 months or more.• Limited number of solutions available All available solutions were coming from big corporations
What makes BI available for SMEs?Trends affecting Business Intelligence availability for SMEs4• Collaboration Increasing ability of use of technology within the organization• Competition Due to the high barriers of entering into the BI market, new players targeting the SMEs segment entered the market• Integrated Applications The integration of analytics in operational solutions• Power to the People Increased availability of BI tools for non-technical people• The need for Speed Relatively new technology in In-memory analytics enabled SMEs to run what-if scenarios, while putting large data sets into the hands of users in a manageable and easily navigable manner• Cloud BI The ability to implement BI without heavy IT architecture• Open sources mainstream Developing “developing tools” that were user-friendly. The reduced the need for having developers in-house• Fast food BI On-demand offerings becoming more attractive as low cost solutions• Visualize it The visualization capabilities made BI more attractive and increased the motivation to expand the use of BI towards graphic means of understanding data• Social Media5. Companies started looking into BI from not only internal sources but externally as well. Social networks are a good example, as contemporary social networking affects businesses greatly. Companies are therefore moving toward social activities and bringing the concepts of social networks in-house
2. Criteria for the successful implementation of BI for SME’sThe choices available to companies looking to implement BI, reporting and analysis to theiroperations are vast. There are virtually hundreds of products offering BI solutions onlineand most of them are technically similar.The recent innovations in technology made these solutions available to SMEs. However,before starting to invest in BI it is important to understand where to start and what to lookfor in order to make sure that the companies make the best investment decisions.There are six critical factors to consider when delivering successful Business Intelligencesolutions in the SME market. 1. Aligning business and ITThis is one of the most important points which are usually overlooked. Top executivebusiness sponsors have to be assigned for project implementations. As the sources onlineprovides6: The well-designed BI solutions provide little business value if no one use them.The role of the Business sponsor is to act as an agent between users and IT to promoteInformation Culture to get users to switch from old to new ways of making decisions andanalyzing information. 2. Start Small, think LargeIt is wise to take a deliberate approach to implementing BI. Identify biggest issues in anorganization and start the initiative from there, or organizations can identify the areawhich benefit from a first – time BI deployment. For example, according the research madeby Aberdeen group Customer Services, Finance and Sales departments are the mostdemanding BI solutions departments in organizations. Research consistently shows7 that the new BI projects that identify their values in the early stage of projects are more likely to succeed than those given a big budget to start. That is why it is suggested to start small and grow from there. Although BI should be viewed as an ongoing program rather than a one-off project, the deployment of individual solutions should be done iteratively. Moreover, this approach will make it easier to demonstrate the value and financial return of BI and securing funds for the similar projects in the future.
3. Time concern for the whole solution.Companies should look at the time required to implement a complete working solution: theone which make it possible for business users to answer business questions. Usually thereare 2 parameters to measure 1: time when the first application deployed to an end user. 2:time for the total deployment of the entire project.The table below illustrates how organizations manage large quantities of data sources andthe effect they have on the time of completion of BI project versus the experiences of mid-sized and smaller companies. 4. Ease of useAs I mentioned earlier, companies can design and build the most sophisticated BI solutions.However, if the system is difficult to use then the investments on this project will bring novalue. Due to the lack of measurement standards to identify the level of complexity ofsystems, easy-of-use criteria are often overlooked during the selection of technology and BIsystems6.Companies needs to consider what it will take for their employees to use the systems theydeploy. One of the ways to measure the complexity of a system might be the time it takes abusiness manager to learn to use the product. Alternatively, the recommendations fromother customers of the same system measured by the time it took to train the customers touse the system. Finally, I believe it is important to measure the time of learning anddeveloping new application with this tool by power-user or IT and Business analyst. 5. Reduce the total cost of ownershipThe total cost of ownership includes many costs of implementing the solution, in additionto the cost of the software and a license. Companies need to consider Cost of Dataintegration as the cost of linking the data with BI might be costly depending on how easy itis to get an access to the data over the time period.Secondly, the cost of implementation might depend on the processes behind the technologyand how the technology interpreted the data. If the solution is used OLAP cubes, the totalcost of ownership might be higher as the future changes in reporting and analyticalparameters will bring similar costs in developing new OLAP cubes.
Finally, time consumption is one of the main factors that affect the total cost of ownership.Companies have to recognize that the time to achieve the first complete workableapplication. 6. Flexibility and AdaptabilityBusiness practices have proven that questions asked by business people today will bedifferent than in the future, as the business environment is dynamic and always evolving.Therefore, mid-sized companies face big challenges in designing and managing BI systemsthat constantly change to adapt to the business needs of their immediate environment6.According the Gantry Group survey 75% 6of all analytical applications needs to be modifiedwithin 6 months of their initial deployment. The ability to change and modify BI systems asquickly as business needs require will determine the success of the project.3. Solutions available in a market for SME’s- what are your Options?By considering all of the above-mentioned factors, organizations can choose one of thecurrently available solutions in the marketThe first solution is the Traditional or In-house solution.These refer to general BI solutions that target SMEs and they include: • Web-based options that can be downloaded from internet • Role-based offerings that follow the same principles as traditional BI implementations. However, these solutions will target a specific type of end user, thus enabling SMEs to implement solutions that target particular areas of their organization; like sales/finance department etc. • Data warehouse appliances with reporting/dashboarding solutions.The benefit of using this type of solution is that the trial versions and free offerings mayexist online. For example open – source solutions are increasing relevant to BI and thevendors across the market compete by creating free versions of software to gain marketshare. The other benefit of traditional BI is to work towards an organization-wide approachto BI which means the organizations can build and develop solutions required by thebusiness needs of the organization without any limitation by the third parties.Furthermore, there is general flexibility for the organizations to build BI to suitorganization specifications.However, companies has to consider that the time taken to implement some solutions arequicker than others, cost of internal sources required, the company might consideremploying more resources, not only to build the solution but to maintain it as well.Second solution is Open Source solution9Open source BI offers free codes to developers to implement their own solutions onsite forfree. These solutions are: • Community based • Low to no cost (includes developer cost only)
• Enterprise solutions available for traditional implementation but with OS pricing models. Currently large vendors provide open source solutions where organizations can adapt the solution to the company’s needs by changing open source code and this does not require a developer’s expertise in-house. Therefore the company’s external IT department can modify and adapt the open source solution.The benefit of open source solutions are that user friendly products are developed to staycompetitive in a market. As software and solutions are developed by a community, there isa feedback and testing available during the implementations from the multiple developersworking on the same project within other organizations.Third solution is On Demand & In The Cloud10These solutions are offered as a service vendor hosts. The vendors keep customer data attheir data center or in the cloud. These include: • Dashboards • Embedded/Operational analytics • Data • ReportBenefits are a quick to implement, because in many cases, as data has been transferred, thesolutions are turned on. There is no in house management required and generally very lowcost is incurred during the delivering process as the solutions and the costs aresubscription-based.However companies have to consider some disadvantages as well. One of them is long termcost. On the one hand, companies do not face huge costs during the deployment of thesolution; on the other hand, the long term cost might be larger to compared with othertypes of solutions. The other disadvantage is limits in customization and expansion fromthe vendor side. Will the vendor have the ability and sources to allocate the future demandsand specifications? In addition, the most concerned point is the security. Manyorganizations still prefer to protect their internal information which might not beconfidential when exposed to the fragilities of third party clouds.Forth solution is Operational Data Analysis11Organizations have started looking for ways they analyze the data differently and the waysthey access BI differently. Companies no longer want to look at the historical approach,they want to be able to analyze information immediately in order to identify what ishappening, to be able to predict what will happen and act on this information. Thisapproach requires new ways of delivering BI solutions • SME’s may choose to use dashboards and analytics to access operational data to perform “real-time” analysis. • This provides a different and newer ways of looking at BI usage while moving away from a historical view of the reporting and analysis.The benefit of this type of solutions is the ability to monitor business activities in a timelyfashion. To be able to react real-time and to be able to collaborate what is going on. Thisapproach will work in integrating of BI with business processes.
There are some considerations to consider; for example, Integration requirements withvarious operational systems and expansions towards organization-wide BI.In Conclusion, after the looking through the factors to consider and solutions available onthe market, the benefit and disadvantages, it can be seen that the strategy of successfulimplementation of BI solutions really depends on organizations objectives, needs andavailable sources. But there is no doubt that for the SME’s competing in an increasinglydata-driven market, the ability to access and process information with speed and accuracyis critical. Whether in recessionary times or not, it is increasingly important for the SME’sto efficiently aggregate information from a wide variety of sources.Ultimately, making effective use of BI will be the hallmark of the well-managed SMEs,demonstrating that it is an enterprise that can always answer crucial business questions,ensuring timely, accurate, information-based business decisions12.
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