Common mistakes made by BI teams

Read time 2min 50sec
Ashleigh Theophanides, actuarial and analytical solutions leader at Deloitte.
Ashleigh Theophanides, actuarial and analytical solutions leader at Deloitte.

The incorrect leadership and a lack of understanding of the desired outcomes are among the main reasons behind the high failure rate of analytics projects.

This was the word from Ashleigh Theophanides, actuarial and analytical solutions leader at Deloitte, speaking at ITWeb Business Intelligence and Analytics Summit 2019 this week.

She discussed the factors which contribute to the failure of most analytics projects and the pitfalls business intelligence (BI) teams should avoid.

"Many mistakes happen when organisations see what competitors are doing and they follow suit without understanding the purpose of what they're doing. And because of a lack of understanding of the aims and objectives and expected outcomes, it becomes difficult to put their story together," she warned.

While they believe in the value of analytics, many organisation implement BI initiatives that cannot be successfully implemented, nor can they adequately predict the behavioural responses of customers, leading to a waste of time and resources.

"This happens over and over again. In some cases where these data analytics projects have been successfully implemented, the problem becomes driving the change that is needed; for instance, reducing the cancellations of medical aid policies, or getting new customers to join. Ultimately, it has to link to the broader business strategy and this is where most projects fail."

Another common mistake, noted Theophanides, is that organisations often do not know whose role it is to oversee the BI projects and who else should be involved in implementing the strategy.

"There is still a lot of uncertainty about who is in charge of the analytics project: is it the CIO, the COO, or the chief data officer? And when success is not achieved everyone blames everyone else, so there has to be clarity regarding these roles."

Other common mistakes, according to Theophanides, is a lack of integration of analytics projects with the broader organisation strategy, a lack of understanding of the different types of datasets, and a lack of understanding of insights against the business needs.

"Organisations should also put in place appropriate key performance indicators to determine whether the projects have been successful or not."

In terms of how the enforcement of the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act will impact on BI roles, Theophanides explained that teams require a good understanding of the Act's compliance requirements.

"Clarity around exactly what new changes should be implemented must be explained to BI teams. One of the things that will help with POPI compliance requirements is if organisations perform an assessment to understand the flow of data in their company. This can be helpful in assessing how employees are sharing client and stakeholder information: is it via a memory stocks or e-mails, and who is this information being shared with?

"I would also recommend that organisations make the information they use anonymous, as it's easy for data to end up in the wrong hands. In addition, doing a cyber threat assessment will help."

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