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

David Gee and Matthias Fetz

There are many technical, process and staff related barriers to sourcing clean, quality data that is assembled in a coherent and integrated manner. Processes need to be realigned with a changing business strategy, staff members need training and your organisation's culture needs to be adjusted.

Such a broad change management activity requires you to define a clear charter for your competency centre, meaningful end-state productivity KPIs, a collaborative, agile approach, and an implementation culture that waits for each business area to be nurtured through a productive consumption and release cycle.

Remember that you don't need to re-build your competency centre around a transition to big data. However, you should periodically review how effectively the centre is servicing new and revised information sets, and how well business areas are positioned to make it worthwhile.

Your competency centre must integrate with existing operational ITIL service and change management processes to safely create new linkages between data sets and potentially generate complex changes to data schemas.

Getting these integrated processes correctly integrated is critical if you want to consistently deliver through the combined and distributed skills of your business specialists, release expertise and technologists.

Stage 4: Expand your competency centre's capabilities

The global reach of today's consumer means that to compete effectively, our businesses must find new ways to complement simple product and service offerings.

Consumers now demand a richer, tailored experience that creates a compelling desire for them to remain loyal advocates.

The true business value may reside in increasing the agility of your organisation to provide better products and services, or simply increasing consumer information accessibility such that they can make informed decisions around their options to tailor existing service consumption.

Where the implementation of a competency centre is expected to lead to an increased headcount, this can often be financed by the practical improvements achieved today, whilst offsetting or delaying expensive system investments.

For example, Viessmann, an international heating systems manufacturer headquartered in Germany, has been able to service 150 report users with a competence centre staff by two part time workers.

You could also consider creating a 'virtual competency centre'. This provides an effective option where the value proposition for establishing or increasing dedicated headcount is not sound. This concept must however, be implemented along with a business user education program; and with true organisational buy-in by all contributing business units.

Stage 5: Establish self-service reporting

Organisations that draw competitive advantage from their data go well beyond standard reports. With the help of their competency centres, they explore the wealth of supporting information through ad-hoc reports using self-service tools.

It is not necessary for the centre to unify all reporting through a single toolset, but rather assist to promote and leverage where existing reporting tools offer pragmatic self-service capabilities.

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