The business intelligence market is growing by leaps and bounds. Large and small companies are investing in BI – some with great results, others mixed results and some with disastrous results. The outcomes are based on numerous variables and we certainly don’t have time to go into all of those variables in this article. But, there is one thing that often factors into these outcomes (positive or negative) and that is something that BI vendors and BI customers must consider.

So, let’s talk about that factor, shall we? The fact is that businesses are more sophisticated in their BI requirements and everyone wants BI that is mobile, easy-to-use and easy to implement but, many organizations still can’t agree on one solution within the enterprise. These organizations often choose two or three solutions to satisfy their needs so, clearly, the dream of one-size-fits-all, self-serve BI is fading.

Some companies have a ‘one vendor’ approach to IT and their vendor of choice is often a large, international software provider like SAP, Oracle, IBM or Microsoft. In that case, your division or department certainly can’t expect a change at the corporate level. But, that doesn’t mean, you can’t get the BI you need! So, before you stop reading, and give up hope, it is important to know that there is a middle ground. If your organization can’t agree on one BI solution, you can still achieve results. Depending on the BI solutions you choose, the enterprise can build a set of solutions that will coexist with the other BI tools in the toolkit and, with the right integration and architecture, can pull together the data in all BI systems to present one picture for executive and management use at the strategic and operational level.

If your team is having trouble choosing one solution or, if your division or department wants to add a specific BI tool to complement an existing business intelligence environment, there is hope. Perhaps your business is too large, too diverse or too complex for you to settle on one solution. In that case, look for the features, functionality, ease-of-use, personalization, and BI mobile capability you need on your team or in your department and choose a vendor that has an architecture, platform and framework that is flexible enough to give you the integration and data sharing capabilities you need.

In order to make an appropriate BI decision for your team, department or division, and get management approval for yet another BI solution, you must consider the following aspects of BI solution implementation, and use:

Ease of Use and User Training: It’s going to have to be simple to use and meet user skill and business needs or they won’t adopt the solution, and your investment will be less than successful.

Cost vs. Value and Time-to-Implement: You’ll want an affordable, easy-to-implement solution so you can achieve rapid ROI. Otherwise, your management team won’t let you buy another BI solution.

Features, Functionality and Flexibility: If you don’t already have a BI solution, build a list of requirements to show your management team why you need a BI solution and what it can do to help the bottom line. If your business already has a solution but it is not suitable for your use, build a list of the features, tasks and capabilities in the ‘gap zone’ and tell your management why you need to fill that gap by selecting a different (or additional) BI solution.

Value vs. Financial Investment: Quantify the value for features like forecasting and predictive analysis, key performance indicators (KPIs) balanced scorecards, personalized dashboards, mobile accessibility, cascading strategy, employee empowerment and accountability, objective metrics, flexibility to accommodate future organizational changes in process or requirements, etc. vs. the financial investment, licensing and implementation fees, user training, etc.

If your management team does not buy the argument that your BI solution is the one the company should embrace at the organizational level, don’t despair! You can get the features you need and satisfy corporate objectives by adding a BI solution that suits the needs of your department, and can be integrated with other systems and BI solutions to provide data sharing at the top level, while satisfying your specific individual, departmental or divisional needs. Many enterprises are doing just that…and with good results.

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