Make your BI tool work for you

There’s never a ‘one-size-fits-all’ way to live with – and upgrade to – a new BI tool. Whether it’s looking at sales data, email response data, or any other data your business can’t function without, there’s a few things to think about.

If you’re at this stage, you know your organisation needs to take this step,  invest and ‘seek enlightenment’.

At bigdog, we’ve recently delivered a major upgrade for one of our clients. In fact, it was more of a complete rebuild. From this experience (and that of other clients), here’s what to consider when bringing BI into play:

1. What do you want to achieve?

Think about your objectives, write them down, argue them, finesse them and get buy-in. To quote from Star Wars, you need to ‘stay on target’. Work towards a defined goal, and avoid venturing into any project and cost without knowing the destination.

2. Input before output

Many will push to see the polished article and deliver fast results. But ensure your data architecture and all sources of data going into your system are mapped out. By focusing on the minutiae of this detail, you’ll build a strong foundation for any evolution of your system and make the output more accurate and aligned with your objectives. Make sure you’re compliant with GDPR and get data protection principles baked into the build.

3. Avoid data for data’s sake

This is a tough one to balance. Avoid getting carried away with multiple data sources before you’ve taken the first steps. As you dig deeper into your build, you’ll happily say ‘wouldn’t it be cool if … ?’ and ‘how about we also add …?’. But if it doesn’t immediately align with your minimal viable product, add it to a wish list for Phase Two of development.

4. Don’t be ‘sold’ to

Yep, there are lots of software and solution providers out there that want you to use their systems. Do your homework and be pitched and presented to. But also seek advice from your peers, LinkedIn, and other suppliers that you have a relationship with.

5. Always ask why?

Keep an open mind as your colleagues, partner or provider work with you to develop your vision. If your supplier suggests a way of doing things that you haven’t considered, take and trust their advice. Be prepared to stand your ground if your gut feeling tells you there’s a reason to stick to the plan. What’s right for your sector, client or user case might not be clear to a third party.

6. Get your MVP sorted before you reach higher

As you develop your BI solution, you’re likely to see more potential and get excited by the possibilities. But be prepared to park these on the ‘next phase’ list. This will help you stay on course with timing and budgets and see some quick wins. You’ll also get more buy-in and investment, and can push ahead with Phase Two if warranted.

7. What are you going to do with it?

So, you’ve got yourself a solid, robust and devastatingly sexy piece of kit to enhance your BI offering. What now? Dashboards and data aren’t the be all and end all. Make sure you understand how the solution will drive decisions and influence your business, and know how to measure the hard and soft metrics.

8. What do you want to achieve?

We end at the beginning. What do you want to do, show, develop, see, prove and improve with your BI tool? Plan this and know how you’ll work on developing it alone or with a partner. It’s important for managing costs, timescales and expectations with peers and C-suite decision-makers.

One thing’s for sure. If you go through this process, and it works for you, your organisation will be a lot richer for it. You’ll have actionable insights from which to make data-driven decisions that will evolve the solution you’re working with.


Author: Ian Taylor is head of ticketing & data management at bigdog Live, the customer experience agency for live entertainment at creative media agency bigdog. Alongside this, Ian acts as senior data planner for the organisation and its clients.

Find out how Profusion helped a client use BI to make decisions based on real-time, data-driven insights – in this case study.



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