Steps to improve speed-to-value for BI and analytics

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In the realm of information management, speed-to-value is the Holy Grail for organizations, as they look to act on data more quickly to make intelligent business decisions. Unfortunately, a recent study from TDWI finds that improving speed to value still eludes many organizations.

“TDWI research finds that organizations are dissatisfied with the time it takes for the chain of processes involved for business intelligence, analytics and data warehousing to deliver valuable data and insights to business users,” the study concludes. “In a recent TDWI survey, research participants indicated that data preparation, essential to BI and analytics, was taking too long.”

This is not good news, according to the study “Accelerating the Path to Value with Business Intelligence and Analytics,” written by David Stodder, senior director of TDWI research and business intelligence. After all, business professionals are becoming less patient with delays in the development of new applications that can provide reports, analysis and access to data.

“Executives, managers and frontline personal fear that decisions based on old and incomplete data or formulated using slow, outmoded and limited reporting functionality will be bad decisions,” Stodder says. “Stakeholders are demanding better access to data, faster development of business intelligence and analytics applications, and agile solutions in sync with requirements.”

Business users do not question the power of information, but they want a higher return on investment with BI, analytics and data management. They see reducing time-to-value as a key way to achieve that. Time-to-value is defined as “how long it takes from the inception of a BI or analytics project to its completion and delivery of anticipated business value,” according to Stodder.

Organizations are spending more on BI and analytics tools, but achieving mixed results from those investments. The study asked respondents to indicate how quickly they were able to achieve value with their business intelligence and analytics projects over the past 12 months, compared to the prior 12 months. The results were:

  • 8% say projects are delivering value much faster
  • 35% say projects are delivering value somewhat faster
  • 28% say projects are delivering value at about the same pace
  • 19% say projects are delivering value as a somewhat slower pace
  • 5% say projects are delivering value at a much slower pace
  • 5% don’t know

There are many reasons why organizations are not seeing greater improvement in the area of time-to-value, and the top three reasons have nothing to do with technology. According to the study, the top obstacles to reducing time-to-value are:

  • 10% say project objectives and scope are not well-defined
  • 10% say they do not have enough skilled personnel
  • 10% say multiple projects are not well-prioritized
  • 10% say they experience data quality problems
  • 9% say they pace of development/deployment is slow
  • 9% say they cannot access all relevant data
  • 9% say they experience metadata, data definition or master data problems
  • 8% say business leadership is not strong enough

The study found that the number one factor that needs to change in order for time-to-value to increase is for greater executive support for business intelligence and analytics strategies and investments in tools and staff. Assuming that, the following steps are recommended by business intelligence and analytics professionals, according to the study:

  • Define and follow strategy that aligns project with corporate objectives.
  • Learn what decisions will be based on the BI or analytics systems.
  • Execute a phased deployment strategy.
  • Encourage reuse of BI or analytics queries, models and workflows.
  • Form agile method teams and give users product iterations to test
  • Identify value measures and quantifiable objectives.
  • Reduce complexity in the user experiences (e.g. the graphical interface).
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