Why Do So Many BI Initiatives Fail?

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Sucess FailureThe benefits of a successful business intelligence initiative are hard to ignore. Collecting and organizing data from multiple sources and presenting insightful analytics help drive a more intelligent enterprise and make businesses more competitive in an increasingly crowded market. But according to Dresner Advisory Services (DAS) Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study, 59% of BI projects aren’t successful. And fewer than 30% of business intelligence projects meet the objectives of the business, according to research from analyst Gartner. Why are so many BI initiatives failing to take hold in enterprises?

Here are 3 reasons why some business intelligence initiatives fail:

Lack of user adoption.

Excella Consulting made a great point, “Oftentimes organizations will fall in love with a tool as part of their BI initiative, purchase it, and then decide they do not have budget to adequately train staff. Or they will invest in a tool selected by IT professionals, without consulting end-users on their needs.” If you don’t properly train your end users, which more often than not is a non-IT team member, then chances are they will just go back to the old ways of doing things. Why would a member of your marketing or procurement team struggle with a new system when, as far as they can tell, it’s not better than the old way? Users need time to adjust to learning a new system. Installing a BI solution is the easy part, getting your team to actually use it is a bit more challenging.

Data quality issues.

Just because business intelligence can collect data doesn’t mean it’s good data. And bad data leads to bad decisions. Data governance is a critical in any BI initiative to ensure that your data is accurate, clean, and useful for making real business decisions. When users can’t trust their data they end up spending more time scrubbing and organizing information than they do actually analyzing it. For instance, a simple misspelling of a customer’s name in your system could create two or even three copies of the same customer information in your database. Now, your customer behavior analysis is relying on duplicated data points, skewing the real story.

Dashboards that don’t provide actionable insights.

Executive dashboards assist upper-level management in directing and managing business growth and performance by providing a snapshot of current conditions and early warnings for potential issues. High-level dashboards put the most important data right out front for all to see. But in order for executive dashboards to work best, companies have to examine their internal processes and define which of their operational analytics are most important in determining the success of the organization.

You can organize your BI data in any way, shape, or form you choose–but are you looking at the right information? While graphs and charts make it much easier to understand and analyze all the data your BI software is capturing, the graphs themselves don’t mean anything unless you can tie it back into actionable insights and measure KPIs. Having the data also doesn’t mean people will use it wisely. What’s the point of collecting information if it stays in graph format?

These are just a few of the reasons why a BI initiative might fail. There are plenty of other hiccups on the road to BI adoption, but when an enterprise plans for things to go awry they have a much better chance of succeeding! There is so much information to be had in so many arenas–marketing, customer relations, sales, the supply chain, and more–that enterprises should do whatever they can do to ensure their BI initiative is a success.

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This post was written by Pat Hennel