Companies that strive to grow and thrive rely on the insight gleaned from their business intelligence system. But when international growth is on the agenda, some businesses forget to prime their BI system for that change. At arcplan there are plenty of experts in this area since so many of our customers are multi-national companies, so we put together this list of items to prepare your international BI deployment for success. With Gartner’s 2012 global survey of CIOs revealing that business intelligence/analytics is their top-ranked technology priority this year, this list is more important than ever to guarantee that your BI system serves users worldwide.
1) Multi-Language Support
BI systems that will be used by employees in more than one country must be multilingual. While users in the U.S. see English or Spanish, users in Germany must have the option to display the system in German. Even better, the system should be able to identify a user’s language via the operating system settings and display their native language automatically. This first point is critical to the success of your system worldwide. If a business intelligence solution hinders useage due to something as simple as language support, it will never take off. Some configuration may be required, but this extra effort will always be worth it.
2) Multi-Currency Support
Any BI system deployed globally must be able to handle multiple currencies and should default to the users’ local currency. In Mexico, users should see all values displayed as pesos; in Canada, users should see values in Canadian dollars – always with the option to convert to U.S. dollars, euros, or any other currency the company uses. Paramount here is also the ability for the BI solution to display local decimal style, i.e. commas vs. periods. In the U.S., decimals are notated with periods (2.45), whereas most of Europe uses decimal commas (2,45). Your business intelligence should comply automatically.
3) Point-of-View Settings
Cash-strapped and revenue-hungry, companies today are very mindful of their expenses and are making a concerted effort to ensure that projects – business intelligence-related or not – have a return on investment in a reasonable amount of time. As a project owner, business planner or member of a BI competency center, you want to increase the probability that your business intelligence project will be approved. It’s not enough to assume that your BI project has ROI – you must calculate and demonstrate that your proposal can produce positive cash flow for the company in a set time span. You’ve probably realized that your executives are not going to give the go-ahead just because you say that the cost of your BI project is justified because it will help achieve ‘better reporting.’ They’re only going to listen to you if you can give them a real rate of return. Let’s dive into how you can figure this out.
Return on Investment is defined as a measure of the value of an investment compared to the cost of the investment for a predetermined time limit. Your executives are likely asking you to show them how your BI project will produce positive ROI – how your project will save more money than it costs or how it will find ways to increase profits since you’ll have better, more organized data. So let’s talk about calculations. It is relatively straightforward to calculate the cost of hardware, software, the hourly rate of your consultants, and the cost of using internal resources. So outline those items first and come up with an investment number. Then you have to consider the following questions:
- ‘Can I quantify the business value of this project?’
- ‘Will the company see financial returns on this investment?’
- ‘How soon are we going to see these returns?’
If you have stellar answers for these questions, go ahead and present your business case. If not, let’s examine them.
Business Intelligence (BI) enables organizations to efficiently monitor and manage their business activities with the help of analytic applications that leverage an enterprise’s data sources. Selecting the right BI software is only one component of a successful BI implementation. The true challenge lies in bringing the different requirements and approaches of the IT team and the business units together to avoid conflicts of interest, time gaps, and – at the end of the day – project failure. So, how do you begin to approach this enormous task in a practical way?
For years, Gartner has been promoting the idea of what they call a ‘Business Intelligence Competency Center’ (BICC) – an internal, dedicated team that develops and bundles resources to successfully deploy business intelligence.
In more detail, a BICC is described as a cross-functional organizational team that has defined tasks, roles, responsibilities, and processes for supporting and promoting the effective use of BI across an organization. According to Gartner, the BICC should role out BI technologies, define the company standards and project priorities, and ensure that the BI that’s deployed is aligned with the business needs.
BICCs are still not in place at many organizations, and we’e seen a wide range of variances in the composition of BICCs. Nevertheless, the concept has spurred the creation of business units that concentrate on ensuring the usage of relevant information for decision-making provided by BI software and on increasing the return on investment (ROI) of BI.