The Elephant and the Cheetah: Episode 2 in the “Potholes of BI” Series
You don’t want to be an elephant if you’re a BI (business intelligence) project. Nothing against elephants – they are beautiful creatures, the largest land animals on earth. Elephants have good memories and high intelligence. But if you’re a BI project you want to be a cheetah. Cheetahs are the fastest land animal on earth, having clocked in around 75 miles per hour, with the ability to accelerate from zero to 62 miles an hour in three seconds flat.
This leads us to a few more potholes of BI:
- Projects that are too big to succeed. In the age of mega-mergers and government bailouts, we frequently hear the term “too big to fail.” But in the world of BI, “too big to succeed” is more common. If the scope of a BI project is too broad, it takes too long for the project team to deliver value.
- Inadequate project planning and structure. Without having a clear project plan outlining roles, responsibilities, timelines, and dependencies, it’s almost impossible to meet users’ expectations for BI projects. Scope creep takes root. Security is an afterthought. Users get poor performance because the business requestor asks for “all the available data,” IT asks why, the requestor says, "in case I need it," and the result is huge and slow.
- No BI center of excellence. Frequently, we see excellent methods and ideas that originate in one part of an organization not get communicated to other areas. Good practices are not widely implemented or re-used, resulting in duplicate efforts and sub-optimal performance overall.
Cross-functional collaborative centers of excellence ensure that barriers are broken down not only between IT and other parts of the organization, but among business units and across geographic locations. Centers of excellence, along with executive sponsorship, can encourage quicker, wider acceptance of BI solutions and practices across the enterprise.
With BI projects, think cheetah. It is a good practice to have a clear goal and to work in small iterations. Developers co-create analytic apps with the business requestors either in person or via a remote real-time collaboration session. The project team demonstrates value quickly by creating prototypes and getting them into users’ hands right away. The project team gets input and feedback from business users immediately and moves apps along to production at a rapid pace. Everyone is happy.
(This article is the second in a multi-part series featuring insights from many BI experts at QlikTech: Chaitanya Avasarala, Miguel Angel Baeyens, Gary Beach, David P. Braune, Greg Brooks, Annette Jonker, John Linehan, Brad Peterman, Olaf Rasenberg, Mike Saliter, Chris Sault, Matthew Stephen, Christof Schwarz, and Mark Wine. (See the related blog post, “Lined Up and Ready to Go: Episode 1 in the 'Potholes of BI' Series” and stay tuned for more!)
I am a marketing and strategy professional with 16 years of experience in the software industry. I'm currently a senior director of product marketing at QlikTech, where I develop and deliver product positioning, messaging, and expertise in support of the company's sales and marketing activities. Prior to joining QlikTech, I was a co-founder and principal with ThinkBalm, an independent analyst ...