BI Leadership

Building a Killer BI Business Case: Start Small, Think Big

Business Intelligence (BI) is now solidly at the top of the list of most enterprise IT plans. Top-performing companies will spend 33% more of their tech budgets on BI initiatives than their slower-growing peers.1

Yet, as anyone who has launched a new technology solution knows the bottom line is always: “What will we get for our money?” Intuitively we know there is a benefit to getting data to more employees faster, but after being burned by failed implementations and a finite pool of funds it’s critical to show ROI.

Where to start?

A recent Forrester report “Quantify the Tangible Business Value of BI,” provides best practices for building an effective business case. Cutting through common distractions and pitfalls, Forrester starts with these simple steps:

  • Is there a need? Determine that you actually need to build a business case. External factors such as regulatory compliance or end-of-life of an existing BI tool may mean that moving forward with a BI investment is a given and no business case is required.

  • Start small, think big. Assuming you do need to create a rationale, take a “start small, think big” approach. Address simpler use cases first, go for a quick win, and then build on that.

  • Focus on tangible results. Rely on tangible metrics to show value. By clearly showing your solution will produce results that support the bottom line, your business case will stand strong.

  • Future flexible. Plan for “future flexibility” so that your solution will continue to deliver significant value to your organization over time.

Start Small, WIN Big

Once you have determined you have a need for a business case, Forrester encourages starting small. By starting with a focused, clearly defined use case you not only have a better chance of getting approval for your project, you will also have a higher likelihood of seeing it through successfully.

Consider low-hanging BI challenges already causing your organization significant pain. Is there a manual process that’s creating a bottleneck and could be automated, such as access to BI insights?

In one example, background screening company SterlingBackcheck struggled to deliver data to business users fast enough. Sales Reps and Product Managers needed the ability to perform quick, route cause analysis of customer requests and product usage data. They had to wait days for a small team of BI analysts to run reports in Tableau, and once in-hand still had no ability to drill down into the data. Meanwhile, the analysts were completely overwhelmed with all the report requests and the never-ending BI backlog.

SterlingBackcheck started with this single use case—delivering faster ad-hoc analytics to the sales and product teams. Today, managers are getting the answers they need instantly and BI report requests are down by 60%. Managers have the visibility they need, and analysts can focus on other more strategic and sophisticated analyses.

Measuring with Real Numbers

Forrester also emphasizes the importance of measuring success with tangible metrics. Most analysts and BI leaders understand the inherent value of BI and analytic platforms—with access to data their teams can “improve customer satisfaction.” But how is this actually contributing to the bottom line?

Showing the tangible value of your BI solution is a key step in building a solid business case. In the example given above, SterlingBackcheck could definitively show the ROI of ThoughtSpot as an analytics solution. The BI team saw a 60% reduction in report requests, which translates to lower demand on valuable resources. And the managers, who needed better visibility into critical data, are now resolving customer questions in minutes, instead of waiting days or weeks.

These results are metrics that the business can’t ignore. All of them can be tied to underlying budgets that ultimately contribute to overall revenue.

“Future Flexible”

Finally Forrester points out that a strong BI business case will promote a solution that continues to deliver value to the organization over time. Forrester defines flexibility as “the value of the option to take a second or third action in the future.” This can also be understood as the ability to scale and adapt to accommodate the needs of the organization.

Though SterlingBackcheck has used ThoughtSpot to solve an immediate issue, they will continue to appreciate value in other projects. ThoughtSpot enables data discovery without extensive technical training, making everyone their own analyst. With ThoughtSpot SterlingBackcheck can now address other important data-driven initiatives that will ultimately support the business in ways that can be tangibly measured.

ThoughtSpot is working with organizations across retail, telecommunications, financial services, among others. Our champions are often those who have made the “start small, think big” concept work. They identify a solid win with tangible results in one part of the organization and then expand that story across departments. Check out Forrester’s recent report to get a solid start on your BI business use case.

 

1 Forrester’s Business Technographics® Global Data and Analytics Survey, 2014

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