Organizations today have good reasons to extend business intelligence (BI) systems to their operational employees. Benchmark research from Ventana Research, sponsored by DM Review, substantiates the view that operational BI is an important tool for performance management; companies that adopt it can expect to become more effective in key areas of operations.


The following recommendations based on recent research are addressed to business and IT executives, managers and users engaged in evaluating or implementing operational BI technology.


Start with business drivers and benefits.


Research participants said that their top arguments in building business cases for operational BI are to increase the accuracy of reporting (44 percent), to give users a single source or view of the truth (43 percent) and to enable users to perform more dynamic business analysis (40 percent).


Identify metrics you will use to monitor benefits.


Almost two-thirds of research participants view improved efficiency as the most important business benefit of operational BI.


Make the value of dashboards part of your business case.


More than three-fourths (78 percent) of participants said that communicating management priorities effectively is an important intended benefit of their deployments (41 percent said it is very important).


Make accurate and timely reporting a key business benefit the deployment will deliver.


Nearly all research participants (94 percent) said that improving access to existing information is a critical objective.


Enlist executive sponsors to overcome resistance and process challenges.


IT leadership clearly must play a major role, but Ventana Research recommends that organizations also identify executive sponsors on the business side.


Assess how your current technology serves operational workers and take steps to improve it.


Think through the impacts new technology will have on people, business processes, information management infrastructure and even customers.


Support key performance indicators, metrics and alerts with access to appropriate data sources.


Research participants said that customer metrics are the most important; 27 percent selected this as their number-one operational metric.


Minimize delays in deployment by knowing what users really need.


Participants said that delay in deployment is their biggest dissatisfaction with operational BI.


Consider centralizing the deployment.


Most research participants (70 percent) said they prefer centralized deployment over departmental approaches.


Provide access to multiple sources of data.


The largest percentage of research participants (34 percent) said that operational workers need access to five to 10 sources, and 16 percent said they require access to more than 20 sources.


Plan to support growing demand for advanced BI features.


Research results highlights a need for self-service capabilities that let them design new reports and create new report queries.


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