Business Intelligence is your Product

Published 17. May 2016 by Sam Briesemeister.

Product integrity (HBR, 1990) represents the alignment of business processes, workflow, and the production lifecycle that yield your product or service; the end result is your customers’ experience of your company. Every process in your business must be oriented to delivering your brand to the customer.

You cannot change what you do not understand; Business Intelligence offers that understanding, of the business’s operations, strategic positioning, and your market. Business Intelligence enables the pursuit of product and organizational integrity.

Unfortunately, many companies still struggle to build significant user-adoption of their business intelligence platforms. Many approaches have been proposed to improve adoption and overall success of BI endeavors, however they miss the larger context of integrity.

Successful business intelligence investments require another layer of product-thinking: that the BI platform is itself a product, to be managed in kind, and it lays the foundation of product integrity for the enterprise.

Ultimately you want:

  • Users across the organization to use the platform, evolve their business operations, and report their success.
  • Prospective users to have an easy on-ramp into the platform, and find useful insights.
  • Sophisticated users to find value in the platform’s capabilities, and propose improvements.

This requires a product paradigm;

  • The outcome of the user’s experience will enable organizational change.
  • The user’s needs will evolve; the platform must be flexible and adaptible.
  • The organization entails many different kinds of users; these represent market segments, requiring different features and capabilities.
  • Users will need support systems, documentation, and training.
  • Adoption will require BI evangelism, advocacy, and integration with many teams, each responding best to a unique marketing message.
  • Understanding the success of the BI platform itself requires metrics, and its value described in terms of pricing.
  • The platform must launch with a minimum-viable set of features and data sets, as quickly as possible.

When your BI teams start thinking in product development, the product vision becomes organizational integrity, as the paradigm drives an essential requirement of sharing and collaboration, to enable the cross-functional evolution that supports innovation for the customer.

Delivering on all this is nontrivial, but absolutely feasible even with small teams. I’ll save that for a future post.

Yes, I recognize that I’ve cited an article that’s now 25 years old, in an industry that evolves monthly. The fundamentals still stand.