Make no mistake, getting started with business intelligence means breaking some eggs. Executives will see things they never saw before, and they may not like what they see. Some powerful stakeholders may have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the table because they are threatened. The entire organization will have to come up the learning curve on analytics.
What’s an IT executive to do? We call the path forward the three W’s and it gets good results.* Here’s what to do…
- Who. Trawl through your organization’s senior executive team for a leader with passion for fact-based management and the credibility to influence his/her peers. If you find such a person, work directly with them on BI for their area of responsibility. Edge out from there based on visible successes. Of the three W’s, this is the best.
- What. If you don’t see an obvious “Who,” do some research of your own with BI consultants, colleagues in your industry, and academics. You’ll want to identify a BI solution with proven results that your organization would value. I’m not talking just about the tool, but how it has been used to improve results. For “What” to work, you will need at least two senior executives who look at your recommendation and will say to anyone who asks, “I want that!” “What” is the second best W.
- When. If you don’t see an obvious “Who” or a compelling “What,” you’ll need to watch for a crisis or deadline that demands BI. For example, your organization may have had a “horriendioma”—a visible failure that embarrasses everyone. You had a massive quality recall or your confidential records were hacked. In the aftermath, you can recommend a BI solution as part of the cleanup.Alternatively you could be cruisin’ for a bruisin’. Say you are making a very large acquisition with an explicit go-live date, and everyone knows you do not have time to fully integrate the financial systems. Instead of flying blind, you can suggest a set of BI windshield wipers.
When you use the three W’s approach, choose the best W you can at the outset. “Who” is better than “What,” which is better than “When,” but all of them work. No matter which you choose for the starting point, take care to fill in the others. For example, if you start with “When,” make sure to line up key stakeholders (“Who”) and articulate “What” your solution consists of.
* The Three W’s comes from a combination of Jane Linder’s doctoral research in information management and NWN’s practical experience working with clients on BI initiatives over many years.