Bill Hoggarth, director of Dataways.

Bill Hoggarth, director of Dataways.

In most blue-chip firms and in many government entities, millions of rands are spent on training managers and leaders on managing finances and getting the best from human talent, while close to nothing is spent on instilling the skills required to exploit and leverage the power of data.

This is according to Bill Hoggarth, director of Dataways, who was speaking at the ITWeb Business Intelligence Summit 2017. Hoggarth, discussed guidelines on how best to engage C-level decision-makers to ensure buy-in, support and a better budget for an organisation's business intelligence (BI) initiatives.

"I've spent a lot of time in my career trying to figure out why it is that despite all that money spent on BI projects and initiatives, less than 30% of these projects are successful," he said.

"When IT employees approach their execs to invest in BI projects and initiatives it's important for them to know their executives understand how they think about the business and how they feel about the premises that underpin the business case for investment in data and analytics. How executives think and how they approach any requests for budget approval of BI projects and initiatives will depend on how they are approached."

BI is not new. It's been around for many decades and there's a significant level of executive fatigue when the topic of investing in BI projects comes up, Hoggarth pointed out.

"This is because execs hear a great deal about the fourth industrial revolution, big data, robotics, artificial intelligence, cognitive computing and there's a certain fatigue that we have to be aware of when we engage with executives because BI has been around for many decades. According to Timo Elliott, innovation evangelist for SAP, 1880 was the earliest reference of BI."

CEOs of major organisations, he continued, have data analytics firmly in their top three priorities:  it's not delegated down to IT departments, he continued.

"Some companies have data or analytics on a standing group in their executive committee, but it's not a train smash if your company doesn't have that. However you need to know that, as it will determine the approach you take in engaging your execs," he asserted. "This engagement will either consist of a strategic high level value-based approach, or you'll have to focus on the cost-saving aspect of BI initiatives," Hoggarth advised.

He referenced a 2010 report by the economist which revealed how information is transforming traditional business and how information has gone from being scarce to being superabundant.

"Companies run on information, but leading companies run on intelligent information," he concluded.