Three quick and inexpensive steps to get your Cloud BI Strategy off the ground!
If you are an IT executive and struggling on how to get your BI Cloud migration moving forward, you are not alone. Many organizations are still facing some critical challenges when it comes to implementing effective BI solutions and it can feel overwhelming. You may find yourself asking the following questions:
What are my constraints with regards to budget, timeline, and available resources?
How will the BI platform be used and what are the critical business and functional requirements?
What are the risks and potential roadblocks that need to be addressed?
How do we ensure system performance, data security, and scalability?
What are the success criteria and how will they be measured?
The very first question above regarding cost and resources are two of the biggest challenges facing CIOs. Implementing and integrating BI systems can be challenging, especially for organizations with complex IT environments. Technical challenges such as data integration, data security, and data governance can impede the implementation of effective BI solutions. Figuring out the budget required can be even more difficult with the many different choices around vendors, tools, cloud platforms, pricing models and required features which can be difficult to assess and price.
So while you are grappling to find answers to these questions, there are a few quick and easy steps you can take to get your BI Cloud Strategy moving in the right direction, which will help build momentum, obtain funding and most importantly, gain clarity on how your BI strategy should align with the business goals - all while delivering some short-term value.
Identify and engage with a single business stakeholder: Ultimately you will want to gain buy-in from multiple stakeholders across the organization but start with one key stakeholder who understands the business and has enough credibility and influence in your organization to champion a BI solution and help you gain support for your data vision and strategy. Once you have identified this individual, work closely with them on the next key step: defining a short-term use case.
Define a single use case for BI that will deliver value to the organization. Most organizations have so many data and reporting challenges it's hard to know where to start. Work closely with your newly identified business stakeholder and define just one use case that will help measure the performance of a specific and relevant business goal. Something that can provide real insights and drive actions and decision making. You can start by defining the desired outcomes the business users want to achieve and then work backwards. It may very well come down to looking at a single key performance indicator (KPI). If that is the case, be sure to include a frame of reference such as a benchmark, or a comparison over time to provide additional context that will help to identify underlying factors which might be affecting overall performance.
Leverage existing tools/assets to deliver a proof-of-concept (POC). Depending on the size of your organization and maturity of your BI capabilities, you most likely have some BI tools and capabilities in-house today. Work with those resources to gather requirements, identify source data and then design and deliver a quick POC solution based on your use case. A POC solution doesn't have to be a complete solution with complex integrations or use expensive tools. For example, you could export some data into Excel and then use a free BI tool such as Microsoft's Power BI to quickly build an interactive, visual dashboard. You could also use Power BI to connect directly to the source application, pull in some data and build your report in a couple of weeks. Your POC is an important step in defining your data strategy for several reasons:
Demonstrate the potential value of a BI solution to other stakeholders, including executives, managers, and end-users. It allows them to see firsthand how the investment in a long-term, BI cloud strategy could provide insights and improve decision-making.
Identify potential challenges and limitations of the solution before it is fully implemented. This can help bring awareness to the overall efforts and some of the considerations that go into a BI Strategy that should help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure that the data strategy is aligned to meet the organization's needs.
Reduce the risk of defining a BI Cloud strategy that will not meet the needs of the business and hence is not adopted by end-users. In the end, organizations need to ensure that their employees are willing to adopt and use these new cloud-based BI systems. User adoption is crucial for the success of any BI strategy/migration project. Even the best BI solutions will not deliver value if they are not used effectively.
So in the short-term, I hope you find these steps useful in gathering internal feedback and proving out at least one critical BI use case that you can use as input into creating a clear and compelling BI Cloud strategy that aligns with your business goals and drives innovation and growth.