5 ways to get the most out of BI and big data

David Gee and Matthias Fetz

Companies like Amazon have demonstrated to the world how to successfully leverage corporate knowledge.

Amazon integrates consumer information to multiply the value of each sale by promoting comparable items, recommending associated products, or offering customer reviews on the product that consumers are about to buy.

Where it doesn't make sense for Amazon to stock items, the company handles the payment and product marketing, while offloading ineffective logistics to third parties.

Amazon's expertise is in specifying the supply chain criteria to determine whether to stock an item or let other companies do so.

As a visionary, the company gained an early competitive advantage by empowering consumers to make informed choices based on factual information throughout their online shopping experience.

Amazon doesn't have more information at its disposal than other similar online stores. What it does do, however, is effectively act on this information.

Amazon is perhaps the perfect example of how to use information to grow a business. So, what's required to boost your business capacity and explore the hidden gems already available within your data?

Below is a five stage process that will help improve your reporting capabilities, operationalise the strategic data sets and reduce the time needed for better business decisions.

Stage 1: Appoint an information champion

Without a willing and engaged executive information champion, any big data project will be compromised.

Your champion must be someone who is an authority on how information must flow throughout the business; and understands which critical records underpin the integrity and quality of operations.

CIOs are often well placed to maintain the balance between complex business intelligence systems and corporate relationships required to preserve effective information management practices.

In organisations where no specific CIO role exists, it is as equally important for the most senior IT representative to understand how information champions are identified.

They also need to ensure systems and services are well represented in any governance framework.

Stage 2: Ensure information owners are working together

During this stage, you should identify and encourage information owners within your business to work with your selected information champion to make decisions around how to use specific data sets.

These information owners rarely reside within the executive team since a key requirement in steering master data management decisions is a deeper working knowledge at the data level.

The most senior departmental staff member is therefore best placed to hold an information owner position — someone who fully understands the operational business risk associated with the usage, access and impact of any their specific data sets.

Stage 3: Create a business intelligence/big data competency centre

Although competency centres are not new, many businesses have struggled to effectively integrate this capability with existing departmental functions to maximise the benefit of their business intelligence and big data programs.

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