Detailed insight into crucial data and events is a necessity for organizations that want to navigate a constantly changing, information-rich environment. Organizations that know how to connect the use of data to their strategic objectives are more intelligent: they become ‘Intelligent enterprises’, constantly reading, analyzing and reacting to information inside and far outside the companies’ boundaries. Information thus becomes a corporate asset, which infuses itself into all strategic and operational parts of the business. As a result it’s only natural that more and more organizations want to start a Business Intelligence initiative.
However BI initiatives cost money. This is often an inhibiting factor for many companies. At the one hand they need BI to face the business challenges of today’s market but at the other hand they need some kind of justification before they can start. This justification can take two shapes or forms.
The first and most well known is the business case. Basically this is a quantitative analysis of all expected costs versus the expected yield or profit resulting into a return-on-investment. The business case involves calculations on lower costs, more effective processes or less manpower. Those are all very tangible and well defined attributes. Business cases are often made by business departments in order to obtain a budget.
The other is less known – probably far more difficult – but with a higher yield. It involves a non quantitative analysis based on vision. Driven by thought leadership an ideal or goal is formed. Unlike the business case there are no tangible attributes. The advantages or benefits can be things like qualitative better decisions or accessing unknown data sources. Often these initiatives are considered to be vague or soft. There is a promise of profit not a proof of profit or like I call it: return-on-intelligence. This vision based justification is often made on an organizational level in stead of departmental.
In my opinion, in this day and age a company can not allow it self to remain without business intelligence and survive the increased competition. A BI environment is a necessity just as much as a LAN or transactional business applications. Therefore they need BI initiatives even without a cold business case. I encourage all companies to take this vision based approach. Not only will it lead to more commitment from your employees, it will also support the execution of your strategy. And in the long run – there is proof enough for that – it will also pay back on its investment.