Nuts & Bolts

StartUp BI Myths

Here are a few general challenges I’ve seen mature startups face when tackling business intelligence.
BI Myth: Systems drive insight (aka “I want a dashboard”)
Companies often focus on the system rather than the needs of the user base. As tempting as it may be to focus on a visual dashboard, its actually business users that drive analysis and insight. Systems should be built around them (and their needs) only after they have identified, tested and repeatedly used the data output required.

“I need more information.”
The desire for omniscience is also known be its true name “paralysis by analysis.” Good leaders are able to ask better questions to focus the business on what matters. That in turns should define the metrics and subsequent, information systems work.

The myth of future proof – Companies often over-buy software or over-engineer because they’re too early in the maturity of the business to take advantage of the features of sophisticated applications. The bigger the spend and effort required the more pressure on getting it right well into the future.  Keep it lean so you have the opportunity (time and budget) to adjust as your business evolves.

The truth is we do not know now what answers the future will require. We only know that the business will almost always grow faster than the systems supporting them can adapt. At an early stage, a focus on the process by which your company acquires and uses data over the systems that will eventually support the needs and (after large up-front costs and effort) drive efficiency and reduce risk. At this stage the mantra should be to ‘Collect everything and learn how to use it as the business needs arise’.

Business’s never fail because they have too little data. They fail because they have too few customers. The desire to increase the latter should always inform and drive the data and analytics requests.