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The Path to BI Runs through a Lake or Warehouse

We consume BI via our smartphone, tablet, computer and even printed handouts (how is that still a thing?). From your basic bar chart to more sophisticated layered plots worthy of their own wall at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, we use slick visuals to feed our curiosity and help our “logic self” make the best informed decisions possible.

But where does leveraging BI begin? Certainly not while wrestling with spreadsheets the week before the annual board or sales meeting.

To effectively leverage BI and make the best business decisions, you need a well planned, finely executed and consistently managed data strategy; and by consequence, its associated data lake or warehouse.This is where BI must begin. If you don’t include this project/effort in your business plan for next year, please be sure to at least make the out-of-pocket spend on a flashy digital “magic 8 ball”.

Having a data strategy, and associated data lake or warehouse, is not a function of the size of your business, of what technology or product you sell, and certainly not an option in our times. Quite simply, it is a necessity.

Consider the fact that your CRM, ERP, CPQ, CMS and Financial Systems, to name but a few, all require a database.  Odds are that they hold similar facts about your business, in more dimensions than some lotto combinations. Even more, odds are that the same facts are contained in disparate data formats and that within those formats you will also find variations of the same data. Notice that I have not even mentioned the term “System of Record”. Which system should it be?

Large or small, your business generates and amasses data that must be well managed and properly integrated in order to be useful for BI and moreover, to efficiently and effectively run your business.

It takes one hour to see a demo of any BI tool in the quadrant (and some demos are outright awesome!). Once the decision to go with a BI vendor is made, it takes minutes to process the electronic documentation.  And from that very minute, until you have all your data in proper order you won't achieve the ROI you expected, not even close.

In looking at your business plan, establishing your data strategy and your data lake or warehouse is known as the “Critical Path Item”. See all the BI tool demos; work on all the KPIs, establish the right business processes and organization, yes please. But if you want to do it right, and  truly leverage BI - start your data lake or warehousing effort with a sense of urgency that screams “yesterday would be fine.”

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