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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.

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  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 -- 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 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 ." Also:

  • Tips to buckle down a midmarket business intelligence strategy
    What steps do you need to take to develop a solid business intelligence strategy? Check out these tips on better BI user adoption and governance and how to create a cohesive BI .
  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:

  • Getting users to buy into a business intelligence strategy
    Marketing savvy is but one skill CIOs need to sell a business intelligence strategy to the business.
  • Involving users in business intelligence strategy key for success
    From conception through long-term execution, a business intelligence strategy must engage users in visualizing data and more. Don't miss these critical steps.
  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:

  • How to optimize your Microsoft business intelligence strategy
    How can you get the most out of your BI data? For Microsoft BI users, here are four ways to optimize your business intelligence management strategy to get the biggest bang for your buck.
  • Microsoft focuses BI strategy on SQL Server, SharePoint, Excel
    Microsoft's BI strategy adds new products under the SQL Server business intelligence umbrella and retires some features from the lineup.
  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:

  • BI SaaS: A fit for some, others not so sure
    BI in the cloud raises questions, possibilities for CIOs at the Information Builders user conference in Nashville.
  • Sales analytics a sweet spot for business intelligence via SaaS model
    The SaaS BI model can help businesses establish a sales analytics strategy that pulls customers and partners into the BI loop.
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