ZS Principal Jeff Gold discusses implementing a business intelligence solution.

Jeff Gold, Principal

Why are so many companies working to implement a business intelligence solution?

The emergence and growth of mobility and the cloud have enabled the capability to provide real-time analytics and insights to the end users right at the time they need it. New applications that are being developed all the time create this opportunity for companies to take advantage of the ability to deliver solutions that they’ve never had before.

CIOs have actually identified that over the next three to five years, business intelligence is going to be their largest investment area. But when thinking about this large investment, it’s important to do it right.

Most companies are investing, and they’re investing pretty heavily right now in delivering the best solutions for their end users. Imagine your competitor is investing in delivering greater insights out to their brand teams, out to their sales reps into the field, and a company can quickly find itself behind.

So let’s take into account two sales reps from different companies promoting similar products but to the same customer. And one rep receives a weekly report that has a lot of data in it about its geography, about the customers—but another sales rep receives an alert maybe 15 minutes before that sales call about the individual customer that he’s about to visit. Maybe it gives information about changes in taste of that customer, maybe their new attributes. Maybe it’s a recent switch to a competitor product.

So the rep that’s receiving the information he really needs for that sales call is going to be more effective.

What steps should companies take to implement the right business intelligence solution?

The first step they should take is really to understand what the business requirements are. What are the needs or unmet needs of those end users, whether they’re out in the field selling to customers, or they’re at home office working on a marketing strategy.

As a next step, it’s really to bring the IT personnel in and leverage the technical expertise that they have in house already, understanding what current capabilities exist, [and] how those could be leveraged to enable greater BI solutions.

And then third, oftentimes it makes sense to bring in a third-party partner who either has assets or products that could be leveraged and certainly expertise around bringing both the business and technology expertise together for the solution.

So it’s not just about getting the right information to the users, but this novel approach of thinking, “What’s the experience that that end user is going to have with the application, with the data, with the metrics to make sure that they’re really leveraging it to improve the effectiveness of that interaction they’re going to have with their customer?”