My DM Review column from June 8, 2006, entitled "Making the Case for an Enterprise-Wide BI and DW Strategy" highlighted the need for organizations to get serious about business intelligence (BI) and to develop an enterprise BI and DW capability. When pursuing this capability it's important to take a holistic view of where you want to go, followed by disciplined investment and execution. To develop the future vision for this capability, there are seven interrelated areas that must be considered: strategy, people, process, metrics, applications, data and architecture. This column explores the key considerations of strategy.Think of BI as a Foundational Corporate Asset. Information must be readily available to employees to support their decision-making; forward-looking companies understand this is a requirement for doing business efficiently and effectively. In this respect, BI can be compared to email, telephones, air conditioning, etc. - things that are essential to conduct business - even though BI is much more valuable. If your company isn't thinking this way, it's a good bet that several of your competitors, suppliers and customers are and will be using their strategic information advantage at your expense.

Plan Ahead. The funding for a BI program is not a one-time consideration; instead, the BI program should be included as part of the recurring annual budget. A multiyear plan enables corporate leaders to have an understanding of the road ahead and what they are getting into. The multiyear plan for the BI program would include a definition of and rough timeline for activities, high-level resource estimates for these activities, plus the costs for resources and any necessary hardware and software purchases.

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