Making a difference with BI
Organisations of all sizes, and across all industries, understand how vital business intelligence (BI) is to the effective and efficient running of the business. Data and information, and the ability to harness these effectively, can be the difference between a thriving and a failing business, particularly in times of economic uncertainty.
So says Premie Naicker, MD of Yellowfin SA, who notes decision-makers today are flooded by the volume of transactional data and lose the ability to make informed decisions. With the additional data available to business today (social media, sentiment analysis), many opportunities will be missed if the correct tools are not made available in the correct form factor, adds Naicker.
She points out business needs to identify ways to gain value from the chaos because having the correct information, at the right time, will allow for timely decisions based on the correct feedback and interpretation.
Naicker believes recognising the importance of information is only the first step. "On its own, information lacks context. Businesses need tools and processes to deliver information and analytics in a way that meets the needs of the business decision-makers."
To gain real value from the data, the raw data must have the relevant detail and contain measuring points, says Naicker. "Data often resides in disparate sources and the tools should enable the user to combine these sources to gain a holistic view of the data in the business. This should then be made available to the business user with the appropriate visualisation and ability to analyse trends."
Companies must ensure there is a solid governance platform for both the data itself and the BI initiative, says Naicker. Data can only provide a competitive advantage, and improve operations, if the businesses understand what information they have and from what sources, and what value the data has, she adds.
"Organisations' governance policies will ensure the correct rules are in place to control the processes of creating reports, ownership, usage and distribution of the data."
According to Naicker, agility is another key to BI success ? agile BI is about a company's ability to adapt its BI projects to meet the evolving needs of the business, and the environment it operates in, she adds.
In SA, many local businesses are still very immature in the use of the data, they do not have any form of data repository and only make use of the operational, transactional and legislative data, and don't do trending and analysis on combined data source, says Naicker.
"Applying these practices will help make the business more data-driven, and will allow the BI projects to be agile, appropriate, and to strike the right balance between control and flexibility," concludes Naicker.