Recently, conversations with friends, clients and professional associates have raised the same questions: Why do companies have such difficulty using business intelligence (BI) strategically? What are the obstacles to success and what can be done to overcome them? We identified four major obstacles that prevent companies from achieving success with BI. Each obstacle also has a solution. The obstacles are:

Business Structure. Companies are organized in divisions such as lines of business (common in the financial services industry), functional departments (common in insurance, healthcare, energy and most other industries) or geography (common in sales and services companies). Business structure provides a way to manage business operations, and this is the source of the obstacle. Managers focus on their single lines of business, department or geography. This causes decisions about the use of BI, the contents of a data mart or data warehouse, the business priorities for and funding of BI initiatives and the interdepartmental sharing (or non-sharing) of data to be made based on a narrow organizational context, not an enterprise-wide or cross-departmental one.

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