On the road to BI enlightenment

While business intelligence may be the current darling of IT its widespread adoption raises the bar for CIOs chasing a competitive edge.

Speaking at the Management Information Principles (MIP) user conference in Sydney last week, Gartner vice president and Fellow Bob Hayward asked, "If everyone has business intelligence, how can business intelligence provide competitive advantage?"

In order to address this question, Hayward gave some tips and examples of how companies have achieved "BI enlightenment".

"When we look at dialogues with customers in this region, conversations about data have really leapt into the mind of executives, they really want to know about this topic," Hayward said.

"You are about to be consumed with data regardless of what organization you're with. Enterprises are facing infoglut.

"It's being captured but the true smarts aren't being applied to this data to capture its true potential."

Looking at what organizations gain from BI tools, Hayward said they only really gain a sense of their business.

"Successful organizations have a clear, top-down initiative on data quality. High quality, well understood, auditable data is priceless," he said.

"Quality data is about consistency, timeliness and relevancy.

"A lot of organizations struggle with timeliness and we've been seeing a real trend with organizations needing more real-time sensory feeds.

"Generally speaking, organizations that have an accurate, timely and complete, single view of the customer succeed and are able to take advantage of opportunities."

Hayward also recommends that, rather than trying to push areas of weakness forward, more successful companies use BI tools to "strengthen their strengths."

"First you have to identify what competitive advantages already exist within the organization, be it structural advantages, privileged relationships, front-line execution or insight and foresight," Hayward said.

"You then apply technology to those areas. We've seen that companies that succeed are the ones which strengthen their strengths," he said, adding companies which break away from traditional modes of information management and move towards knowledge management have notched up some successful initiatives.

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