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There is a Better Way to Handle Big Data

By Marc J. Schiller  |  Posted 05-14-2012 Print
Much of the great promise of business intelligence (BI) goes unrealized because decision makers aren't using the decision support systems in any meaningful way. The vast majority of big data and business analytics projects implemented by normal companies suffer from chronic underuse.

Usually it's neither IT nor the business that is entirely to blame when BI projects fail. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. But knowing the truth and being able to learn from it (and prevent it from repeating itself) are very different things.

So, to avoid this problem I would like to propose we create The BI Professionals and Users Charter Principles of Implementation Excellence. It is my belief that if both sides of the BI equation (i.e., the business users and the IT builders) adhere to this charter and its principles, the problem of business intelligence underuse will go away.

The Business Intelligence Charter

We, the members of the BI program at our organization, both IT professional and business professional alike, do solemnly swear to adhere to and uphold the following implementation principles:

  1. No report or other front-end screen will go into development without the user community approving an actual mock up depicting the front-end user experience exactly as it will look after it is developed. (With real data!)

  2. No report will be developed without it being specifically identified as being used and reviewed in a particular and named business forum or meeting.

  3. No report will be developed without it being directly tied to a specific and tangible business question that is being asked today and that cannot be adequately answered.

  4. No report will be developed without the business community specifically identifying, in writing, what decision they will be making with this report.

  5. No report or system component will be released to any user without said user completing the training program.

For a moment I thought about explaining why each of these principles is so critical to solving the underuse problem in BI. But I figure that you get it.

Two final thoughts:

1.No, I am not playing favorites here. It may seem on the surface like I am coming down hard on the business but the onus for asking the questions embodied in these principles (and getting the business to provide satisfactory answers) falls squarely on the IT group.

2. I know that some of you are already thinking about a few more principles you would like to add to the charter. Of course you can add to it if you must. But my counsel is to keep it as short as possible. Short and sweet is critical to driving adherence.

Now off you go. Figuring out how to use that 900 TB database of cellular call location coordinates to identify your customer's ideal location for presenting offers. Just make sure you have the exact business question that it will answer and the actual business decision it will drive firmly in hand before you spend too much time and money building it.

About the Author

Marc J. Schiller, author of "The 11 Secrets of Highly Influential IT Leaders," is a speaker, strategic facilitator, and an advisor on the implementation of influential analytics. He splits his time between the front lines of client work and evangelizing to IT leaders and professionals about what it takes to achieve influence, respect and career success. Download a free excerpt of his book at http://11secretsforitleaders.com


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