business intelligence

How to develop a successful business intelligence strategy

Businesses have long recognized the significance of using data to gain insights into their operations. What has changed in recent years is the advent of new technologies that have made it easier and more cost-effective to collect and store large amounts of data. Now business intelligence (BI) is more important than ever. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global business intelligence market is expected to grow from $29.42 billion in 2023 to $54.27 billion by 2030.

But how do you craft a successful business intelligence strategy that aligns with your business outcomes?

In this article, you learn about what is a BI strategy, why it is important, and the steps you need to follow so you can drive data transformation at your organization.

What is business intelligence strategy?

A business intelligence strategy is a plan for how an organization will use business intelligence to achieve its goals. It serves as a blueprint for utilizing data within a company effectively. 

The term business intelligence was first coined by Richard Millar in 1865 and has since become widely adopted by organizations of all sizes. 

The BI strategy goes beyond simply implementing the right technology; it involves determining how to deploy the software platform, manage data for analysis, and enable informed, data-driven decision-making among employees. Success lies in generating actionable insights that drive business value through a systematic approach involving discovery, planning, and execution. A well-defined BI strategy ensures a return on investment by guiding how data is utilized to achieve business objectives and drive competitive advantage.

Why it's important to have a business intelligence strategy

Apart from decision-making and competitive advantage, having a business intelligence strategy is important for several other reasons:

Operational efficiency

BI helps in optimizing operational processes by identifying bottlenecks, streamlining workflows, and improving resource allocation. This leads to increased efficiency and cost savings.

Customer engagement and satisfaction

Understanding customer preferences, behavioral patterns, sentiments, and customer churn is essential for any business. Through effective customer segmentation and delving into customer data, you can tailor your offerings, services, and marketing strategies to enhance customer satisfaction and foster loyalty.

For instance, Neobank Northmill utilized customer segmentation to personalize banking experiences, resulting in a 30% increase in conversions.

What moves the needle is turning insight into actions. To run a business, the ability to produce nice graphs and monitor interesting data is not even half the story—it's what you do with it that's important.

Tobias Ritzén Former CFO, Northmill Bank

Risk management

Through monitoring of key performance indicators (KPIs) and detection of anomalies, you can effectively identify and mitigate risks. This proactive approach helps prevent losses and ensures smooth operations.

Cross-functional collaboration

BI platforms facilitate data sharing and collaboration across departments and teams within an organization. This facilitates cross-functional communication and alignment.

Compliance and governance

BI systems help make sure that companies follow rules and internal standards by giving accurate and easy-to-check data for reporting and analysis. This is particularly vital in regulated sectors such as finance, healthcare, and government, where maintaining strong data governance practices are paramount for trust, transparency, and regulatory compliance.

Key steps for creating a successful business intelligence strategy roadmap

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a BI strategy roadmap. However, there are some key steps that all organizations should take when developing their roadmap.

Step 1: Choose your sponsor

Selecting the right sponsor for your BI project is critical to its success. Ideally, this should be an executive-level leader, such as a Chief Data Officer (CDO) or another senior executive, who can back the initiative and secure buy-in from other high-level employees. It's essential to ensure alignment on the vision of BI within the company and to obtain participation from key stakeholders. Regular communication with the sponsor is necessary throughout the project to keep them informed of progress, challenges, and successes. Providing tangible evidence of the BI platform's value through impactful reports and insights is crucial to demonstrating its effectiveness and securing ongoing support.

Step 2: Select the right BI solution

There is a wide range of BI solutions available in the market, so it’s important to choose the ones that will best meet your organization’s needs. Some must-have features to look out for:

  • Interactive data visualization – This feature allows users to quickly and easily see patterns, trends, and outliers in data sets to make data-driven decisions at the moment of impact.

  • Reporting – This feature allows users to generate reports that can be used to track progress, measure success, and identify areas for improvement.

  • Data mining – This feature allows users to extract valuable information from large data sets so they can uncover hidden trends and insights.

  • Predictive analytics – This feature helps users make predictions about future events based on past data so they can make informed planning decisions.

For instance, Gilead Sciences and ZS Associates, two industry leaders, leverage predictive analytics to enhance patient outcomes.

The ecosystem has been quite sophisticated, we apply AI use cases to predict the likelihood of a prescriber writing a script before a script is being written. You can prescribe actually predict a patient dropping a therapy before it actually drops, or you can actually predict a plan changing their formulary status before it actually happens.

Mahmood Majeed, Managing Partner at ZS Associates

Other criteria to look for in a BI solution:

  • Collaboration – Can users easily share data, reports, and insights with others?


  • Data security – How is the vendor keeping your data safe and secure so that unauthorized users can’t access or misuse it?

  • Flexibility – How easily can you customize views or processes in the solution to meet your specific needs?

Step 3: Build your BI team

Building a skilled and diverse BI team is essential for implementing the strategy effectively. This involves defining roles and responsibilities, ensuring that team members have the necessary skills and expertise to support different aspects of the project. While BI platforms ensure accessibility and user-friendliness through self-service analytics, a cross-functional team is important for successful platform implementation. These platforms enable business users to access and analyze data independently thereby reducing reliance on IT or data specialists.

A prime example of the impact of such a proficient data team can be seen in the experiences of Sumathi Thiyagarajan, the VP of Business Strategy and Analytics for the Milwaukee Bucks and Fiserv Forum. Thiyagarajan's leadership highlights the importance of having a skilled data team. She has successfully built and led a data team, leveraging insights to continually provide the best fan experience.

Step 4: Define the scope of BI in your organization

Before diving into the deployment of business intelligence software, it's crucial to establish a clear understanding of what BI means for your organization. This involves determining how BI will be integrated into day-to-day operations and which departments or divisions will benefit from its implementation. By defining your operational definition of business intelligence, you can identify specific areas where BI can support company objectives. This includes deciding which metrics and reports will be the highest priority that measure success against overall company goals. 

Step 5: Prepare data infrastructure for analysis

A strong data infrastructure is vital for effective business intelligence. Traditionally, BI relied on data warehouses, but modern BI can analyze data from various sources. It's essential to differentiate between trusted and untrusted data sources and ensure that mechanisms are in place to bring untrusted data into a governed and secure environment for analysis. The BI team should survey stakeholders and information consumers to identify the necessary data sources before deploying the BI platform. This step ensures that the BI strategy is built on a solid foundation of reliable data, enabling meaningful insights.

Step 6: Develop a business intelligence roadmap

With a solid foundation laid in the previous steps, it's time to develop and implement BI solutions tailored to the organization's needs. A BI roadmap involves outlining key milestones, dependencies, and timelines for implementing the BI strategy. Throughout the implementation process, it's essential to prioritize usability, performance, and scalability to ensure widespread adoption and long-term success. Moreover, regularly revising the roadmap to accommodate evolving business needs and technological advancements is essential for maintaining alignment with business objectives. Anticipating future requirements and marking significant events on the roadmap helps maintain alignment with business objectives and ensures the delivery of maximum value over time.

Start building your BI strategy roadmap now

A well-executed BI strategy can help businesses of all sizes make better, data-driven decisions. ThoughtSpot’s search and AI-Powered Analytics platform is easy to use and can be tailored to fit the specific needs of your company. 

Start a free trial today and see how ThoughtSpot can help you achieve success with your own BI strategy.