Strategy for DW and BI

Situation and Challenge

Companies active in banking/finance and insurance need well-functioning solutions for data warehouses (DW) and business intelligence (BI) for follow-up and analysis. This is vital for their decision-making and product development.

Many companies’ vision of a DW is that it should be company-wide and function as a strategic and long-term information platform. Generally, however, one or more data warehouse solutions have arisen from a departmental or functional perspective.

Many companies struggle to reach a consensus in the organization regarding future DW solutions. Requirements originate from both operations and IT, as well as potentially from external players. What challenges are involved with this?

Required skills – problems with implementation

DW/BI solutions are under constant pressure to change. This is because business operations change due to internal causes (organizational changes, new user groups, new/changed processes, product range) and external causes (customer behaviors, laws/regulations), which in turn affect the need for analysis and reporting.

The need to analyze information affects many people in the organization, including those who work in operations and in IT. Many employees have opinions, some of which are more well-founded than others. Some opinions derive solely from a specific perspective, which means ideas about prioritizing measures can vary.

Opinions about needs are divided in both operations and IT. There may be concern that existing data warehouses cannot be adjusted or changed. Existing DW platforms might be a few years old, and the question is whether they can be developed into a common solution or if it would be better to start over.

What is a structurally correct approach?

Overall it might be wise to establish consensus and understanding in the organization for DW and business intelligence as regards definition of requirements, needs and possibilities.

This can be accomplished through focused initiatives:

  • A short management-adapted training initiative can boost the decision-making process in relation to DW. A short initial training initiative increases the likelihood of various stakeholders involved in decision-making understanding each other and having the same frame of reference.
  • An inventory of problems highlights all potential problems associated with the current solution and the DW/BI IT platform.
  • A needs analysis that includes existing needs and that produces a set of needs based on what is known about probable changes and challenges in the future is helpful.

Using this as the basis, a strategy can be formulated and a plan produced whose point of departure is the current situation and observance of future needs.

We have done this before

We helped an insurance company in Sweden that was experiencing the issues above.

We held a course for management and other relevant personnel, as well as conducted a large number of interviews to inventory problems and to do a needs analysis. On this basis we made recommendations for the existing DW/BI solution.

The organization reached a new level as regards knowledge and consensus for future strategies for utilization of DW and BI solutions, and is now executing the strategy on its own.