How to Get the Best from Business Intelligence – Part Two: Avoiding the ‘Volume-Equals-Value’ Trap


Following on from the success of our 4dBI blog series, we’ve developed this new series of articles full of practical advice to help you achieve business intelligence (BI) success.


To accomplish your business goals, you need the right BI solution in place. It’s not about having loads of fancy features you don’t use, or spending out on new BI technology when your existing tools will do the job (when you know how to use them properly).

It’s a similar situation for BI itself. Sheer BI volume (the number of available reports and dashboards) doesn’t automatically translate to BI value. In fact, it’s been suggested that poor data can actually cost businesses 20%-35% of their operating revenue, so it’s essential you only manage the data you really need.

It can be easy for organisations to fall into the ‘volume-equals-value’ trap. So, to make sure it doesn’t happen to you, here’s three steps to ensure your BI projects are a success:


Step One: Make Sure It’s Relevant

There’s a huge range of BI software out there. From self-service and cloud-based platforms, to those with completely customisable and interactive dashboards, there’s hundreds of tools available that promise a hassle-free way of turning data into actionable insights.

Some BI solution vendors will happily sell you predefined analysis and reporting, but is that the best solution for your business? We think not. They won’t be tailored to your people, processes and goals, and are likely to churn out an overwhelming amount of BI that’s near-impossible to generate value from. In other words, don’t create information for information’s sake.

When developing new BI, always make sure it’s relevant, necessary and provides tangible value. Ask yourself, do your BI solutions take you closer towards achieving your business goals? Are your reports and dashboards providing you with the data you need or are you sifting through a sea of endless information? If it’s not facilitating data-driven decisions that benefit your organisation, then stop reporting on it.

Your BI solutions must continuously evolve and adapt to the ever-changing needs of your business. They must also accommodate the changes to data that today’s digital world brings. Our unique 4dBI model does exactly that. By aligning the four vital dimensions of your business; your goals, people, technology and processes, your organisation will work in sync to meet your objectives and unlock truly high-value BI. It reflects where your company is at present, and where it needs to be, rather than focusing on outdated reports that are no longer reliable.


Step Two: Ensure it Remains Focused

It wasn’t too long ago that we were typing things into Google but now 40% of adults are using voice search each day. Technology constantly brings new changes to the way we go about our daily lives in (almost) the blink of an eye and that applies to BI too.

Most BI software will be to adapt to the data demands of today’s fast-paced world (we’re happy to show you how if you need us to). To keep things running smoothly, we’d always recommend striving for a minimal set of impactful BI reporting and analysis. A carefully-planned BI solution that works towards your goals should harmoniously evolve in line with your business. Again, that’s something our 4dBI methodology can help with.

When you have a BI solution in place that’s shaped by your goals, the data you manage will automatically be only what’s necessary. Instead of trawling through reports to get what you need, you’ll be able to quickly find the right information to then interpret and apply it. Giving your people access to the right information to support their business processes, keeping them on the path towards achieving your objectives.

It may be a cliché, but quality over quantity rules and it’s well known that many BI projects fail to deliver value. Gartner reported that in 2017 as many as 60% of big data projects will be abandoned – having too many reports that no one understands or uses is one of the key reasons why.


Step Three: Complete Regular Reviews

Data can lose its value in a matter of minutes so it’s crucial your people can confidently get what they need. When you’re making critical decisions, there’s no time to waste – who wants to be responsible for missing an opportunity?

Regularly reviewing your BI ensures it’s still giving your people the right information. We suggest revisiting it at least every six months to keep it relevant and focused. Data doesn’t have to be complex, the key is equipping your people with the skills and knowledge to determine what’s required. If you were an eCommerce brand looking to improve your customer’s journey, you would look at their purchase behaviours and the contributing factors to those purchases. Yet, if your dashboards are still presenting you with the shopping habits of customers long gone, what value does this give? If something’s not providing concrete value, either change it so it is, or bin it.

Reviewing your BI also presents the opportunity to determine if it’s providing valuable insights which can prevent future failings. Our concept of pre-mortem KPIs allows organisations to spot potential issues before they occur, rather than waiting to rectify them after they have happened. So, when you’re completing your review, don’t discount data which indicates the problems that may shortly follow.


Having trouble determining the data you need? Our goal is to empower our clients to become self-sufficient when it comes to lasting BI excellence so we’re always happy to pass on our expertise. To find out more, please call us on 44 (0)20 3824 2338 or 01392 241 214, send us an email, or tweet us!


Keep an eye out for part three of our new series which will be published shortly!