ZS Principal Jeff Gold on five common mistakes that limit the impact of a business intelligence solution.

Jeff Gold, Principal

Business intelligence mistake #1: Going slow and steady

Sometimes companies don’t realize how important speed is in implementing a BI solution. Either they attempt to build it completely from scratch, or they may leverage a vendor, or a product that actually doesn’t meet their requirements.

Companies who are building from scratch might actually waste months just documenting what the business requirements are, or working with a product that doesn’t meet all of their needs. They may find themselves spending a tremendous amount of time trying to add new functionality or customizing that product.

Business intelligence mistake #2: Not knowing set up costs can be the tip of the iceberg

They get very excited by that initial cost of set up, or initial cost of deployment, and sometimes they don’t take into account other costs, which could actually be pretty high, operational cost, licensing costs, hosting fees, and certainly change requests.

So that if the solution that you deploy quickly doesn’t meet all of your end user needs, there could be pretty significant customization or configuration charges on top of that.

Business intelligence mistake #3: Implementing a system that can’t scale with the company

They may be able to partner with a data provider who can give them a solution very quickly. But that’s doesn’t necessarily scale as the company scales. So as your company enters new markets or grows, and wants to incorporate new data sources, or even completely change the source of data that you’re working with initially, you may not have that flexibility with your system.

So it’s very important that when you lay out the roadmap for your BI solution, that you not only build for what you need today, but you think about the future—make sure it’s scalable and flexible to incorporate new data sources, new capabilities, new technology, new functionality.

Business intelligence mistake #4: Forgetting the end user

They build their BI solutions without taking into account what the end user needs really are. So they may build a very elaborate technology solution, but it doesn’t deliver the insights that are really required for the commercial organization to make the right decisions.

It’s very important to bring both the business users and the technology experts together at the very early stages to think about what the solution is. Sometimes an external partner can play that role very well in bringing these two groups together, and also bringing in that expertise, both around the commercial organization and technology.

Business intelligence mistake #5: Trying to build the perfect solution

Sometimes companies try to build the perfect BI solution, which in reality is not really feasible. However, they spend a tremendous amount of time assessing, and designing, and architecting that perfect solution.

Now there are a lot of products or accelerators that exist that can help companies deploy something very quickly. Maybe it doesn’t meet 100% of their needs, but it can quickly get them 80% of their needs and have a scalable, flexible solution to add on additional capabilities later.

It’s far better to quickly deploy a solution that meets 80 percent or more of your needs than to have the perfect solution that only exists on paper.