Quickly adapt to changing business needs using Agile Business Intelligence

12 June 2017 | Share it on social networks

Traditional Business Intelligence tools based on Business Objects or Cognos enable trained users to create their own reports. In an environment where information and processes are in constant change, why not make this feature, usually reserved for expert users, available to every user by including them in the design of the Business Intelligence System? This is the challenge of Agile BI.

Business Intelligence is not a project

According to Andreas Bitterrer, vice president of research at Gartner, "BI is not a project, it doesn’t have an end as such. BI is a continuous process within companies" It is part of a strategy linking the management of information systems, the users, and all of the company’s decision makers. This strategy aims at identifying and obtaining reliable and timely information to help making better decision. Therefore, access to information is essential for decision makers in order to seize new business opportunities.

Business Intelligence needs to meet users’ needs quicker

Users request greater involvement and quick access to relevant information that will help them to quickly take the appropriate decisions. Whereas classical Business Intelligence would take months to deliver the proper reports, Agile BI tools can meet users’ needs within a few weeks. Furthermore, users no longer want to be mere "consumers" of the decision-making tools, they seek to contribute actively in upstream processes or to take part in the design of the Business Intelligence Information System.

A new approach to Business Intelligence

To make this possible, a new approach called "Agile BI" was established. This practice makes it possible for users to create and access Business Intelligence reports, develop complicated queries and check that the business needs are consistent with existing reports. Users work independently with the decision-making tool.

What is Agile Business Intelligence?

Agile BI could be defined as a practice allowing end-users of the Business Intelligence tools, to acquire part of the responsibility in data processing, in the construction of custom reports and even in designing analytical applications, while providing the IT department a transverse control of the different processes.

Among the advantages of Agile BI:
•Increased autonomy of users obtained through an ease of use;
•an easier implementation and shorter developments allowing to reduce time to market for BI requests;
•Ability to integrate Agile BI with software applications such as ERP and CRM;
•reduction of dependencies between user needs and technical developments;
•Compatibility with modern project management frameworks and methodologies such as Scrum and Kaplan.

A favourable context

Furthermore, the facilitator aspect of the spread of "Agile BI" is undoubtedly the technological context. Indeed, today, users are increasingly familiar with the use of IT tools. In addition, given the competitive environment, they cannot wait for the IT department to implement a “classical” tool to meet their business needs, they must react quickly and explore fresh data. This is one of the main reasons why the "Agile BI" today is becoming more and more popular.

However, to secure a long-term and sustainable use of Agile BI tools, it is still advisable to follow some good practices such as the mobilization of "key users" and the implementation of controlled data sources with BI experts able to work in collaboration with end users of the Agile BI tools.

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