Most firms have several database applications deployed.  Despite this fact, they are finding it increasingly difficult to bring all this data together and use it to make decision effectively. ...

Most firms have several database applications deployed.  Despite this fact, they are finding it increasingly difficult to bring all this data together and use it to make decision effectively.  One possible solution to this problem, a type of system has become quite pervasive: Business intelligence (BI) system.  These systems usually work with existing system to allow users to mine the underlying data in an easy-to-use GUI format, create custom reports, use drilldowns, and other intuitive tools.

What are some key variables to consider when deciding on a business intelligence solution?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several elements to consider when using technology through business intelligence systems in reengineering organizations.  One of the most important is determining the exact purpose of the business intelligence system.  There has to be a clear correlation between end product and the use of business intelligence as a process.  In order to ensure a smooth transition between the way things were done and the way things are going to be done in a business setting, there has to be a lucid understanding as to why the business intelligence system is going to be adopted. A lack of clarity in this regard might result in resistance to effective adaptation.  The need to make the case for an organization's reengineering using technology is one consideration that must be taken into account.

Another consideration that has to be taken into account is whether those in the position of power truly understand the nuances of the organization.  Organizations that embrace a business intelligence reengineering system have to be knowledgeable about the intricacies of their businesses so that the exact purpose and use of technology can be effective.  For example, when Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane wanted to embrace the business intelligence model of sabermetrical analysis using technology, he faced intense resistance.  The outrage came from Beane's desire to challenge the traditional method of scouting players through subjective "eye- tests."  Practically speaking, Beane was only able to find success with his business intelligence approach because he, himself, was a former player and he understood player analysis to a degree that made the embrace of technology an appropriate one. Beane was a "baseball man" and thus could assess the validity of the business intelligence system being adopted. Had Beane not understood the complexities of baseball player analysis and the business forecasting in his field, the exact use of business intelligence methods would have been a challenge.  Had Beane not understood his own field, he would have lost his position. The entire business intelligence model of sabermetrics might not have been as widely embraced as it is today.  Business leaders that embrace business intelligence have to understand their own organizations.  They must understand the different aspects of it that will be transformed by the use of business intelligence.  For leaders that are not intimately associated with their organization, if they lack a stake in the company from a practical and vested point of view, the use of business intelligence systems might not be as effective as it can be.  This would be another consideration to take into account when examining the use of technological business intelligence system.

Cost is one consideration that is inescapable.  The cost of a business intelligence system is a consideration that has to be understood.  Any technology that results in immersion into debt and economic challenges might not be worth it. The establishment of a business intelligence system is going to be an investment in cost.  All organizations have to examine their current economic status and the value of future projections in light of investing in business intelligence systems.  This becomes one of the most important considerations that organizations who wish to embrace a reengineering through business intelligence have to recognize.