In planning the BI project it is important to develop an understanding of the uniqueness factors for that business. Building this understanding may influence the type of solution that is financed.
The last article in this series covered “The Corporate Architecture and Complexity of Data Links“. This builds on out business understanding that impacts the selected solution. You should walk away from this series with an impression the selecting a BI solution is not merely about software selection, but about a whole range of factors that require a more holistic vision about how the corporation will be leveraging its business intelligence capability. Yes we do need to measure profitability, but ultimately we also need to measure a range of other factors.
So, what makes our business unique?
Each business has a set of products or services. Many of these may also sold by the company’s competitors, at a similar price in a similar format. There however is always some distinguishing feature that ensures customers buy our product or service rather than our competitor’s. This may be as simple as undercutting the competition’s price or may be some unusual aesthetic feature. Knowing the factors of uniqueness is essential for each business. This has been described as many things over the years, but it is generally known as the unique selling proposition, or USP.
Each business, of course, has its competitors. One of the reasons for implementing business intelligence solutions is to identify ways to take advantage of prevailing market conditions. Thus it necessary to understand the ebb and flow of the marketplace; how this industry sector(s) function. Marketplace goals will also be a driving factor.
One of the major reasons for introducing Data Warehousing technology is to identify and measure factors that distinguish this business from all of its competitors. Pre-packaged solutions are rarely capable of doing this. They concentrate on general business goals, or maybe that of the market sector. Uniqueness will always need to be added to any pre-packaged solution.
Note: the author has identified two factors that need to be considered:
► Factors that are common within the particular industry sector. This may be all insurance companies, or alternatively may be insurance companies operating in the life and pensions sector, where specific rules have to be met.
► Factors that make our specific business unique. E.g. the brand name – Coca Cola, the reputation for quality workmanship – Rolls Royce.
When I work with corporations to deploy BI solutions I have created an assessment form that allows these factors to be both defined and assessed for your corporation. If we take an example of a corporation involved in the travel sector some of the generic industry factors may be:
◊ Declining corporate travel market
◊ Buoyant executive travel market
◊ Growth of no-frills airlines
◊ Growth of on-line sales
◊ Reducing costs
◊ The impact of terrorism on the marketplace
Factors making our specific business unique may include:
◊ Guaranteed lowest price whether booked on-line of in store
◊ Value customer service and retention (follow up call after trip)
◊ Wide variety of sales channels, even active on Social Media
◊ Active in all areas of the world
◊ International free-call help line
◊ Links airlines and corporate customers.
Understanding these factors and classifying both their mission criticality and their complexity are both important to the financial decision making process. Some factors here may be regarded as complex because such data is not currently recorded within the company.
As a general observation the more unique the business the less likely it will be a candidate for using a pre-packaged Data Warehousing solution and the more likelihood that the corporation will have to define their own database model or make changes to an ‘industry focused template’.
Next “Suitable Analytical Applications”
Tags: Business Enabler, Business Intelligence, Planning, Successful Projects, USP