Outgrowing your current BI systems?

Here at Konteksto we’re often confronted with clients whose BI systems are wholly inadequate for their needs. While, to us, these clients have an obvious need for more robust systems, we’ve found again and again that, internally, many businesses-cum-clients are unaware of their needs prior to arriving on our doorstep.

Which begs the question: how can a business or organization tell if their current BI/analytics are insufficient? Given that business-focused data science is still an emergent field, it’s understandable that many older businesses are in the dark as to their current needs.

Here’s what we tell prospective clients:

1.) Take a look at the terrain that is your business and its market. What are the data needs of your organization? What tools are you using at the moment. As a rule of thumb: if your business has in excess of 20 employees and $1.5–2 million in revenues, you should no longer be dependent on the Microsoft Office suite for your BI (and, yes, we’re including Power BI in this).

2.) What are your competitors doing with regard to BI/analytics? This seems a banal statement to many; in fact you’re probably saying, “well of course a business will keep an eye on their competitors!”. We’ve found, however, that with established firms there are often only aggregate measures being taken of competitors, and that — more often than not — very little thought is being expended on what competitors look like internally as organizations.

3.) Once a perfunctory assessment of your current BI is taken, take a hard look as ask what it is that you, as an organization, require. Is there competitive advantage to gained from mining data you currently have? Should investment be made in data gathering? (We are certainly biased here at Konteksto, but the answer is “yes” approximately 95% of the time).

4.) What is your goal as a business/organization? While many established firms are only moderately — “organically” in biz school-speak — expanding, expansion is always on the horizon. A properly resourced analytics team can steer an expansion, or assist with a “pivot” that would never have been thought possible in the absence of an adequately-financed analytics team. Yes, this does cost in terms of revenue expenditure, but the payoff in the end is — in our humble opinion and in our experience — always worth it.

Certainly there is much more to be said regarding analytics capacity; we, of course, encourage those reading to reach out to us for a consultation (it is, after all, why we are in business). That being said, though, we wholeheartedly encourage readers to look at their organization’s BI/analytics system with an eye to what’s working, what’s not, and what’s down the road.