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Business case or Business phrase for BI ?

Past week I attended a Marketing colloquim where I was invited as a panel member to discuss the new realities of marketing performance and metrics. What struck me was the growing importance of Data across sectors and company size. But aside from the consensus that existed on the importance of Data in defining, adapting and evaluating go-to-market approaches,  there were a multitude of opinions on how to realise this – in particular on the amount  of technology investments and number crunching activities that are required.

The ensuing discussion reminded me of a quote I read in an earlier Harvard Business Review article (June 2010) in which was stated that “a company’s value is no more than the sum of its decisions it makes and executes”.

Provided that humans take these decisions (disregarding the impact of machine intelligence for a minute), I reasoned  that marketing executives (and all executives for that matter) should focus their new investments on the ability to take better and faster decisions. Technologies that address the ‘triple V’ challenges of customer data (Variety, Velocity, Volume) should therefore be on the radar of every senior Marketeer.

The  challenge however is where to start first. Most companies are not the Amazons, Linked-Ins, or Capital One’s of this world, and are tuning their multichannel business models to optimally match the new economic realities. For those companies the question is not whether to invest in Analytics or BI, but how to phase such investments in  incremental, meaningful and value-adding steps, all while keeping in sync with the required organisational changes, and - let's not forget -  IT.

What I am starting to learn is that good storytelling - vividly describing how a data-driven, tool-enabled decisision process could impact time-to-market and ultimately profit - is critical to convince executives that analytics is not just another hype.  

Being, like many, in an organisation with analytical aspirations, I find myself spending a lot of time in crafting the stories that resonate best with my management and help them taking the next best step. Suprisingly, my spreadsheet-based business case has been left untouched for a while now.. It's more about finding a good business phrase rather than a good business case for BI.

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