Top 3 Business Intelligence Myths: Busted!

Everyone is talking about BI these days, but what does it really mean?

Many CIOs are prioritizing business intelligence (BI) and implementing it into their marketing and technology plans. But there is a lot of misinformation going around. With the popularity of BI on the rise, we would like to set the record straight and address a few misconceptions we sometimes hear.

• Myth #1: BI is too complicated to do yourself, but too expensive to pay someone else to do for you.

Gone are the days when companies were obligated to hire an outside consulting firm to analyze their static data for a single specific scenario.

It used to be the case that in order to implement a business intelligence or predictive analysis plan, you had to either go out and buy the necessary hardware, storage capacity, and network infrastructure — a time- and resource-intensive process — and build it yourself, or you were forced to contract your data processing out to a third party and wait days or even weeks to get your “actionable intelligence” back.

However, thanks to advances in data retrieval and cloud hosting, this is fortunately no longer the case. Due to technological breakthroughs regarding how data is accessed remotely, you no longer need to pay big bucks for an ad hoc solution that won’t get you past your next campaign. (ETL)

• Myth #2: BI is only available to huge for-profit corporations.

Business intelligence can be used many different ways by all sorts of organizations. For example, BI pioneer Netflix uses their massive data assets to develop formulas to determine which not-yet-released shows will be blockbuster successes. (See: “House of Cards”, “Orange is the New Black”, etc.)

But if your organization’s primary concern is figuring out at which point in the moves management timeline your donors are most receptive to making a major gift, well BI can do that too. Just because your organization isn’t Facebook or Twitter, you can still enjoy the benefits that BI can bring to your data warehouse.

Most nonprofits will be able to find a BI solution within their price range that also meets their technical and strategic requirements. However, there are many other factors to consider before you  invest in a comprehensive BI solution, including your nonprofit’s strategic initiatives, data collection processes, and personnel resources.

• Myth #3: BI is the end-all, be-all, cure-all solution.

Most organizations are run one of two ways: either by continuing the same processes that have shown proven results in the past, or by taking a leap of faith on a new technology. Business intelligence mitigates the risk inherent within these two processes by replacing habit or instinct, respectively, with hard data.

However, BI is not a panacea, nor should it be considered the final step in the operations evolution. Rather, BI is a supplement or improvement to existing policies and procedures that helps your organization reach clearer solutions to make better decisions.

Another important item to note is that BI is only as good as the data which comprises it. Poor quality, low volume, and disjointed data are just a few factors that can contribute to misleading BI results and low ROI.

Instead of being tempted to link data silos together in order to get a better idea of who your constituents are, where they are located, and how they interact with your organization, the ideal process would be to structure, scrub, and consolidate all of your data into one centralized database.

An effective BI strategy will allow you to gain valuable insights on your organization’s current position, as well as give you the tools you need to determine where you would like to take your organization and how to get there.

A simple solution is to use the BI component of StratusLIVE for Fundraisers. As part of the Software-as-a-Service product, StratusLIVE’s BI offering can help you reach your goals.

To learn more, just visit www.stratuslive.com or call 757.273.8219.

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