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The ins and outs of successful business intelligence management

How much emphasis do you put on business intelligence management? Learn how to improve strategy and user adoption, and get tips on BI tools, in this guide.

It can be a struggle for midsized organizations to realize the benefits of mining and analyzing data streams, given their smaller pools of resources. But there are a number of practical ways to develop a business intelligence (BI) management strategy.

In this guide, learn the ins and outs of business intelligence management, from overcoming user-adoption hurdles to analyzing technology options -- including information on Microsoft-specific strategies, and whether Software as a Service (SaaS) is a good fit for your organization.

This guide is part of SearchCIO-Midmarket.com's Midmarket CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic management and decision-making advice on timely topics. For a complete list of topics covered to date, visit the Midmarket CIO Briefings section.

Table of contents

  Kick off a BI management strategy
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The benefits of a BI strategy -- tools, processes and systems that assist in decision making, operations and strategic planning -- are vast. A company's data can be a gold mine of information, helping an organization boost operational productivity and efficiency, increase its understanding of the competitive landscape and find new ways to add to the bottom line.

As Scott Lowe, CIO at Westminster College, explained: "We're in the very early stages of building a business intelligence strategy. Believe it or not, colleges and universities have a real revenue motive around the use of business intelligence tools. Although most private colleges and universities are not-for-profit, they're also not for loss, and it's critical that we maximize any and all resources we have available."

Most recently, Lowe discovered how important it is to understand the organization's operations at every level. With the right data, he said, the college can make better decisions both tactically and strategically, and can hold people accountable against measurable performance goals.

Learn more in "Create a manageable business intelligence strategy, governance plan." Also:

  Improve user adoption of business intelligence tools and processes
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BI software products are touted as a way for business users to generate in-depth reports without any handholding from the IT staff. IT executives like Gary Gallant, however, aren't holding their breath.

Gallant, vice president of the global applications center of expertise at perfume maker Coty Inc., has his eye on several BI software advances that promise to bring BI to the masses. One is the Magnify enterprise search tool, made by Information Builders Inc.

"Today, with our material company information, you have to drill through a hierarchy to get to the right level," explained Gallant, on hand at the recent annual gathering of users of Information Builders' WebFocus BI platform. "[Magnify] is more like a Google search, which everybody knows how to use."

Learn more in "BI software advances can't address adoption issues, CIOs say." Also:

  Successful business intelligence management using Microsoft's BI tools
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A big problem with BI is that it doesn't focus on the end user. A database is meant to allow users to extract and analyze data trends and patterns, but it doesn't tend to work out that way. Users must rely on developers and database administrators to extract data, or take the time to learn the ins and outs and become database experts on their own. Because of this, BI is often a hit-or-miss affair.

Self-service BI features in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 can help simplify data extraction for both users and IT.

Learn more in "SQL Server business intelligence and self-service BI in the midmarket." Also:

  SaaS business intelligence options
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How does a global, decentralized enterprise draw enough intelligence from all of its brands to make informed decisions? With a business intelligence Software as a Service (BI SaaS) solution. How does a growing midmarket, concerned that it doesn't have the money for an on-premises BI package that costs several hundred thousand dollars, do likewise? Same answer.

In fact, with the economic downturn, all kinds of businesses will adopt BI SaaS solutions in the next five years, according to a report from research company IDC in Framingham, Mass. IDC expects the business analytics SaaS market to grow more than three times as fast as the total business analytics software market, with a compound annual growth rate of 22.4% through 2013.

Learn more in "BI SaaS: Getting a fix on your business in a tight economy." Also:

  More resources
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