Is Your BI Strategy Past Its "Sell-By" Date?

The adult mayfly usually spends 48 hours, max, on earth before it dies. That milk in your fridge will start to curdle within a week or two of the day you bought it. Those Valentine’s Day flowers will begin to wilt within a few days after delivery.

The lifespan of your business intelligence and data analytics strategy isn’t that brief – and it’s probably shorter than the time you take between oil changes. Companies that ignore that “service engine soon” alert on their dashboard will pay a heavy price: lost revenues, competitiveness and overall value.

You must review and refresh your BI strategy, and its models and tools on a regular basis.

5 warning signs of an expiring assessment

The velocity of change in today’s business, technology, and geopolitical environments needs no exaggeration. Here are five common milestones that demand a freshening—or an overhaul—of your business intel efforts:

  1. Your company changes its strategic direction, or is absorbed in a merger or acquisition.
  2. Your BI and business strategies seem unaligned or out of sync.
  3. Your business intel solution is struggling to integrate seamlessly, or even interoperate, with your data warehouse or new technology and data management platforms.
  4. Your reporting mechanism is no longer as powerful, as easy to understand, or as trustworthy as it was in the past.
  5. Your BI solution can’t help you meet new compliance requirements.

Data models are inherently short-lived. You’ll know it’s time to retool when:

  • Your BI solution doesn’t deliver current data, or even close-to-real-time information.
  • Your BI tools fail to identify inherent flaws in processes.
  • Your internal customers stop asking for more information or different types on insight.
  • You can’t identify who “owns” BI or your data sources.

Why changing BI "on the fly" is better than the alternative

Waiting to make updates can lead to gargantuan replacements, which will take your BI capabilities out of action for weeks at a time. These upgrade nightmares create damaging gaps in your ability to respond to day-to-day challenges and opportunities.

You can maintain business intelligence agility and respond to strategy-, market- or technology-driven challenges even as you re-engineer your BI strategy and capabilities. You do, however, need the involvement of decision makers at the business-unit level and a clear alignment between changing business and BI strategies. This means you need a C-suite-level sponsor with bottom-line responsibility actively engaged in reengineering process. He or she should have a complete picture of the entire enterprise’s objectives and strategies, and map key performance indicators to the company’s initiatives and overall mission.

This is also the time to consider taking advantage of cloud-enabled BI components. The cloud offers a robust and flexible infrastructure that delivers “elastic” analytics, accelerates time to value, minimizes risk, and manages costs through economies of scale and the “pay per usage” model. Talk to your sponsor about alternatives to your current solution and map how cloud-enabled components can impact your business.

What does the right BI strategy look like? An updated strategy should take a company to the next step where modern BI becomes the “new normal.”

  • It allows organizations of all sizes to leverage a trustworthy and scalable platform and encourages people to uncover insights in their data.
  • It gives IT its rightful role as an enabler of superior insights, decisions, and productivity—not as a technology producer.
  • It empowers people to work with data in a more natural way and creates in data literacy a fundamental, sustainable skill.

By supporting the transition to the cloud, it “democratizes” and accelerates the adoption of advanced analytics.

Change is constant; agility is imperative

What’s the biggest mistake that most organizations make when they invest in analytics? They don’t start with a plan to succeed.

Disruption is everywhere: competition; technologies, like IoT, AI and machine learning, cloud computing, big data and robotics; global economic and political upheaval. Data science remains an evolving and challenging field of expertise, with the professionals engaging in lively debates about its present and future.

The game changes every day. Meeting this challenge demands daily engagement and the ability to adjust business intelligence strategies and tactics without falling behind, increasing risk to an unacceptable level, or making egregious mistakes.


When was the last time you assessed your BI strategies or programs? Are they past their sell-by dates? Do you have the tools and expertise you need to give them new life? 

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