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Business Intelligence StrategyWhat is a Business Intelligence (BI) strategy? A BI strategy comprises a collection of tools, designs and workstreams that put data into the service of an overall business strategy. In one sense, all BI strategies are the same. As SAP noted its article, When looking into SAP’s BI and Analytics strategy, business leaders always wants a strategy that provides “people with the insights they need to make better decisions, and enable them to act.”

At the same time, no two BI strategies will ever be exactly alike. The strategy will necessarily bend to many different unique organizational, process details and strategic plans. Choosing which reporting and analytics you will need depends on the growth drivers in your industry.

If your strategy is to compete by being the low-cost producer in your industry, for example, then your BI strategy should focus on identifying cost savings across your supply chain. If your strategy is to differentiate through product features, a good BI strategy would be one that interprets market conditions and evaluates competitor offerings in real time.

Best Practices for Implementing a Business Intelligence Strategy

Deriving value from your disparate data sources will drive revenue. What’s the best way to realize this idea? Implementing a strategy requires harnessing diverse data sources so people can create context from siloed information. In our experience, several recommended best practices emerge to facilitate BI strategic success.

Build a Bridge from Your Data to Your Business

In a new white paper titled, “Essential Attributes of the Modern Approach to Business Intelligence,” Infiniti Research asserts that speed – for what they call “the insight-to-decision procedure” – will be the number one quality of successful BI. Best practice BI teams will also work hard to ensure data interactivity and high UX (user experience).

If business users have practical dashboards, they may more readily embrace self-service BI reporting programs. SAP supports this requirement in their SAP BI roadmap. They include easily accessible, web-based front-ends that will look familiar to even the most tech-challenged business user. For example, business users who access data via SAP Analytics Hub will encounter drag-and-drop functionality and “gamification style” report-building technology that includes all assets in a mixed landscape, as well as third-party content.

Going further, SAP Business Objects Business Intelligence Suite can be used in any hybrid BI program to ensure usability remains paramount and that your IT BI headcount can engage in front-end training and support, as well as let users work at their own pace. What’s clear is that a data-mining partnership between business and IT must remain self-service to bring the most value.

Focus on Your BI Architecture

BI architecture is a critical element of BI strategy. We wanted to share a great resource on this topic. According to Business Intelligence speaker, consultant and CEO of  The Passionned Group, Daan van Beek, three best practices will ensure your BI architecture empowers your BI strategy:

  1. Hide complexity for end users: You have to balance user access with data protection. In this context, Van Beek advises that business users must “be able to directly select indicators and dimensions for use in reports or interactive analysis. This makes quick and easy reporting possible and it protects the organization from a situation in which each employee needs to (or can) assemble his own indicators.”
  2. Synchronize and utilize granular data: When you synchronize among systems for BI reporting, whether in the cloud or on-premises, the data needs to possess exactly the same granularity as the data in the source system(s). Then, you may test and verify appropriately and feel assured you’re reporting based off detailed data that contains all of the information you need to act.
  3. Consult an SAP expert like Symmetry to gain symmetry: Van Beek chose our name for a reason. It’s a guiding principle: the data must follow the business need as closely as possible. Spending the time you need to make sure “the content of the system determines its architecture and structure” will help you create the most business bang for your BI buck.

Create Connectivity to All, For All

SAP BI solutions allow businesses to use massive amounts of data from disparate systems for visualization. According to the team at Tableau:

“Users can take full advantage of their visual discoveries by asking more questions, drilling down into the data, and ultimately, generating shareable dashboards. At the core is a partnership between business and IT. IT designs the data architecture and enables the security and access control. Business people access the analytics and dashboards they need, when they need them. The result is a secure environment overseen by IT that supports not only an organization’s data integrity but also empowers people to answer critical questions.”

Getting to Your SAP-Specific BI Strategy

SAP has embarked on an Analytics strategy that will end up being almost exclusively cloud-based via SAP Analytics Cloud. Yet, those still using on-premises analytics within the SAP landscape can still make headway when formulating a BI strategy. The pre-built content of SAP Analytics Cloud helps SAP customers forecast, model scenarios and provide revenue generating context for the projects that will lock in competitive advantage.

We can help you develop and implement an SAP BI strategy. Working with us, you can implement your BI strategy on-premises or in the cloud. We can guide you on architectural considerations and hosting choices. Contact us if you have BI Strategy questions for our hybrid cloud IT Consultants; or if you are thinking about migrating to SAP HANA to ensure your platform remains highly adaptable to BI needs, read The SAP HANA Deployment Guide.

Jennifer Kiser, Solutions Director, Answerthink

Business leader and Innovator of creating ‘Outside the Box’ visualizations of a people’s businesses, utilizing actionable insights with real time data. Some would refer to me as; a vivacious and diverse resource for a multitude of industries, with the unique ability to implement technology driven discussions around analytical insights that challenge the status quo by asking,” Why and Why Not?”