Business intelligence software (BI) may offer slick dashboards and tons of statistics, but it doesn't replace the intelligence of executives - or good governance systems.
Business intelligence means knowing what is really going on in your business, not just looking at slick dashboards and statistics provided by BI software... What's more, with a good governance system in place, your enterprise risk management system would already have noted strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and their impacts.
In both the public and private domains, today's executives sometimes face irrational demands to reach unrealistic goals. And some software suppliers think they have the answer: Buy some BI software -- expensive data analysis tools that highlight patterns in statistical data.
But business intelligence means knowing what is really going on in your business, not just looking at slick dashboards and statistics (which Mark Twain might have classified as "lies and damn lies"). The first thing you need is a deep understanding of your processes, where their weaknesses are, and the bottlenecks.
Change is tricky
Most problems in business come from systemic changes. So before you can take advantage of some new BI highlight and implement some changes, you must have already established good change management protocols. Otherwise you face the real possibility of creating new problems. Changes can affect perceived product image, aesthetics (Windows 8!?), customer loyalty, social ethics, sustainability and more. Running a full product research project will invariably lead to losing the market advantage discovered by BI. (This is not a contradiction. Read my earlier blog post, "3 Strategic Benefits of Good Compliance”.)
With a good governance system in place, your enterprise risk management system would already have noted all these risks and more, along with strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats aspects, and their impacts. Its cross-referencing functionality will allow inclusion of all affected areas of the proposed opportunity.
You can run the effect through a risk model, which automatically consolidates up through the corporate hierarchy notifying people in other areas that would be affected, even if they are unaware of the original opportunity. Running a holistic risk management system, such as ISO 31000, means all areas of business have risk models integrating into this system. Marketing knows their customer touch points by product line, while finance has profitability and funding sensitivity limits monitored. Even a large organisation can confidently react to an opportunity in less time than it takes to set up a focus group.
But wait, there's more
This is just one aspect of how a good governance system makes an organisation more agile. We haven’t even looked at the benefits provided by predefined change management plans, communication channels, visibility and accountability systems that aid the implementation of the opportunity as it evolves into success.
With a good governance system in place, you might even find opportunities without BI.