According to IDC data on the market outlook for BI platforms, the Big Data and analytics global revenues are predicted to grow from nearly $122B in 2015 to more than $187B in 2019. This massive growth is fueled by the use of predictive and prescriptive analytics tools which are combining with IoT data to provide completely new ways of looking at various interactions.

For this discussion, let’s assume a B2C focused firm that is looking to implement or expand its BI efforts wants to understand how to setup the company for success. Unfortunately, many BI implementations fail to take hold and truly transform the organization. There can be many causes of the failure including (to name a few); not involving multiple departments from the outset, limitations in the platform to “tell the story”, and slow application performance.

Thankfully, there are some steps firms should take to ensure BI is broadly adopted and the promised benefits of analytics are visible to every department and the end customer.

Craft the Right Culture

You need the right people combined with the right technology tools. Staff who are empowered to make decisions and pose questions are ideally suited for BI. They’re the ones who can find correlations between sales data on specific products, social media mentions, and the geographic location of certain customers. BI must be viewed as more than a data tool, but a new way of investigating the past results of actions and better predicting how to adjust future actions.

There are several “building blocks” to creating the data-focused organization and a culture that understands how to pull insights. Some of the building blocks include the need for a single repository of trusted and “true” data, a dynamic data dictionary, broad data access, and the integration of data into decision making. Following such a path will set up a company to gain the most advantages from a BI implementation. This is a multi-stage process, but the payoff is immense.

Gain Support from the top

A critical error is to view a BI implementation as a “one-off” program, where data is all dumped into the system and miracle insights are supposed to occur. A speedy implementation means some aspects of the organization were likely not considered, and the team pushed for short-term goals. BI is a complete program, one that can take time and resources to implement. Taking on a qualified consulting firm can aid in this process, as consultants can offer guidance on creating a BI roadmap that will provide the company with a user-friendly and powerful BI solution.

A longer-term implementation and taking on board consultants will require buy-in from top management. CIOs have to get the CEO to act as the BI implementation’s top champion, someone who understands the power of BI-produced correlations and its ability to uncover problems and successes. And they’ll get that BI can improve the all-important customer experience. Talk to upper management about BI’s ability to produce short-term results and to effectively “learn” over time as the quality and amount of inputted data improves.

Pick the Right Data

To gain the most from BI, firms should pull in both structured and unstructured data sources. For example, you want to pull in unstructured comments and posts from social media, so you can gauge customer sentiment and relate it to other data points. This is critical for B2C environments, where customers might engage with a brand through a dozen different channels. Combine this type of information with data in the ERP and CRM system to provide users with various layers of context.

Data also needs to come from verified sources, as fundamental issues with the data’s integrity can ruin any advantages that BI has to offer.

Define Goals

Once top management’s support is secured, then CIOs and the team need to establish goals. Consider the data sources and the business specifics to create reachable goals. Perhaps there will be metrics on customer satisfaction, internal user adoption, or sales goals – or a mix of goals and metrics that must be achieved. Setting goals can align results with the lofty expectations of the executive team. And the BI solution itself must be flexible enough to accommodate shifting goals and priorities, so it needs to offer customization features.