Business intelligence features in MIS or Management Information Systems have been touted by many as a magic “silver bullet” by some that can somehow solve all business problems in the current fast paced environment.  Technology companies that develop MIS systems for business intelligence advertise the benefit of such systems, how they improve processes and results, and assist company decision makers to sift through the ocean of data generated every day, to capture data that would otherwise be lost over time and attrition.  However, without proper planning such tools can become a burden, unusable by a company without the processes in place to act quickly on the information provided by such systems.

MIS systems are really only as good as the business processes into which they are implemented.  In order for a business to truly capitalize on business intelligence technology, the business itself must change on several levels in order for the knowledge gained to be of any benefit.  This point is especially critical as it relates to management.  Knowledge mined from data must be presented in a way that helps to facilitate good decisions.  By generating more data, the business could potentially create more confusion than knowledge. The system employed by the company must be capable of delivering and presenting the knowledge gained in a way that can be easily understood by less tech savvy individuals, including the use of visual representations, interactive filters, and drill downs that provide details when requested while presenting the significant findings in an effective manner.  Proper BI system training is also essential to ensure long term benefits and larger returns when driven by people that have a keen understanding of how to use the system to its full benefit.

The systems must also be integrated into new business processes.  The company must change the way information is reported and how it is analyzed in order to make decisions.  Processes must not only be formed in a way that works with the system, they must also be nimble enough to apply the knowledge gained to decisions in a way that facilitates company growth and profitability.  This does not mean that the system dictates the business processes.  Rather, the business processes must change in order to fully utilize the new forms of efficiency and potential effectiveness provided by business intelligence MIS systems.  Since the idea behind business intelligence systems is to gain new information the business needs in order to work smarter and faster, the business itself must leave older, slower processes that are dependent upon former data flow management and information gathering techniques in order to establish new processes that move faster and are able to deliver new knowledge for quicker and more effective decision making. 

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In concert with the process requirement, awareness for the potential “paralysis through analysis” must be established. The company should recognize the value of knowledge gained through business intelligence systems without becoming overly dependent upon the technology to find the perfect answer or decision.  A new business intelligence system should be recognized for what it is…a tool that helps the company make profitable decisions, make less costly mistakes, but not a tool that is 100% accurate at making final decision or providing conclusive evidence to follow any particular direction.  The company must therefore establish processes to classify data in a way that avoids becoming overwhelmed by information that is being created at an ever increasing rate.

Present day businesses currently swim in an ocean of data, so much so that making any real sense of the data can seem an insurmountable task.  Business intelligence systems can potentially aggravate this issue by creating even more data to manage and review.  In order to ensure that business intelligence systems fulfill their intended purpose (which is extracting knowledge from data to give the company competitive advantage), the company must have processes in place to ensure that pertinent data remains while non-pertinent data is archived or removed.  The system must be tuned in order to meet the needs of the business, providing useful knowledge from the data rather than just additional data.  The business must allow time to properly tune the system, with the expectation that the benefits of the system will grow over time as the system, business processes and personnel work more closely together. 

The experiences of two companies, Parkway Corp. and Bristol-Meyers Squibb, reveal similar experiences that confirm the concepts mentioned above.  They also can attest to the incredible advantage they have experienced in the market through the proper use of business intelligence systems (in this case data mining).  For both companies, without the use of business intelligence systems, they would be wading through the mountains of data available to them on a daily basis, and in most cases rely on pure “gut” feeling to make business critical decisions rather than solid knowledge that is available in the data if they can find it.  There have been many significant benefits that could only have been delivered by a data mining system for both companies.   For example, in the case of Bristol-Meyers Squibb, finding pharmaceutical innovations within the enormous amount of data they have to sift is just one way BI has provided them with competitive advantage [1].  And for Parkway Corp. simply identifying their best repeat customers and then implementing custom programs to better meet those customers needs, has been a major advantage their system has delivered [1].  So although implementing business intelligence technology solutions is an enormous, company-wide project; through proper planning the business can reap a substantial return.