A lot has changed in the last 15 plus years in the security industry, including the ability to process and analyse Big Data. The growth rate of data has reached an astounding pace. Today, best estimates are that about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced every day—that’s 2.5 followed by a staggering 18 zeros! The volume of data feeding into businesses is so vast, the only means available to leverage this data to drive decision making is to harness the power of a Business Intelligence tool focused on the unique set of data relevant to the user’s specific market.
Top Business Intelligence (BI) software tools are no longer just for Fortune 500 companies. A good BI tool can enable any size business to plumb the depths of their “dark data” to identify business improvements, operational efficiencies, marketing opportunities and reductions in loss. What do the best BI tools look like, how do they function, and how best to implement one for your business? With over 18 years of experience in this field, we’ve distilled our successful implementation knowledge into the following 10 Golden Rules for your consideration.
1. Fail to plan and you plan to fail
Effective use of Business Intelligence demands that you know your goals, requirements and limitations as well as your definition of success. What information is important to the flow of the business? What technology do you have access to today, and what technology will be added in the future? What human resources will be involved? Such understanding will be crucial for staffing, controlling loss, and optimising store layout. Creating an accurate, complete scope of work will prove to be as important to the user as it will be for the integrator.
2. The humans matter
Clearly define your key stakeholders and your day-to-day users. Early involvement of key stakeholders ensures proper alignment between project requirements and operational realities. Remember: Big Data isn’t just for loss prevention anymore—a significant and growing number of marketing, operations, human resources and other personnel use such data to make their company’s stores more efficient, safer, and profitable.
Businesses have just begun
3. Leave IT out at your peril
IT must be at the table early and invested. Communication with IT from project inception will better ensure a long-term successful deployment. IT will absolutely be concerned with any hardware or software installation, and demands on “their” network. However, with advancements in video compression algorithms, the impact on existing network infrastructure can be controlled to enable full utilisation of multi-megapixel camera technology, which is key to achieving superior results.
4. Questions & fact finding
What processes are currently being used? What are the pros and cons of those processes? Learn about the systems currently in place that collect all that rich data. i.e. Point of Sale, Intrusion, Video, EAC, HVAC, and others. How can this data be shared into the BI platform?
5. Not all BI platforms are created equal
Select a BI platform designed specifically for your market sector; one that allows extensive customisation to match your goals and one that can evolve over time as situations, technology and goals change. Ideally, the team supplying the BI platform should know your market sector inside and out, and act as a consultant in the implementation process. A general purpose BI solution will not be tailored to harness the specific data that will be most valuable to your business. Beware of “one size fits all” solutions—they may work for all situations, but they won’t deliver the superior results you want.
6. On-time, on budget, on mission
Having the best product, best design and best plan does not ensure successful implementation. Select an integrator partner dedicated to your specific market. Their knowledge and value add will be crucial every step of the way, especially when collecting and integrating data across multiple systems—POS, back office reporting, etc. An integrator experienced with your business model will be able to properly estimate the time and budget requirements necessary to accomplish your mission.
7. Feature creep: The barrier to successful implementation
New ideas will inevitably emerge during BI implementation, but you have to manage expectations as to what is possible now. Do NOT let a barrage of new “must haves” derail deployment through dreaded scope-creep. Save these great ideas for future phases; the right BI solution will evolve with your business for years to come and will ensure that you can implement the “must haves” when the time is right.
|An integrator experienced with your business model will be able to properly estimate the time and budget requirements necessary to accomplish your mission|
8. Make it real, if you want real results
Ever bought a car without a test drive? We haven’t either. So, don’t hesitate to invest in a pilot programme. Engage with solution providers to test drive data suites through the proposed BI engine so you can experience real output for your intended mission. By demonstrating the software’s value—and proving ROI—you greatly improve your ability to gain organisational buy-in.
9. Future-proof it
Demand that your BI solution is a dynamic business tool, flexible enough to grow and evolve with your business. The solution provider should be able to supply real-market examples of how their software continues to add measurable, substantial value for years to come.
10. Don’t make me think!
The chosen BI tool must be intuitive, with little or no training required.
Maximum ROI is achieved by maximising the time invested by human resources to achieve business improvements. At a glance, the tool should point out locations and employees that are outliers. The ideal tool should then present the supporting data and video in a way that can be quickly reviewed with little to no training. The tool will enable staff to work more efficiently, not harder. A Loss Prevention analyst in Retail for example, should want to start their day by opening up and working with the BI tool because it makes them that much more productive. We call it Return on Time Invested.
Businesses have just begun to reap the benefits from mining all the data they collect across tens of thousands of locations, and the ROI will only increase as more data collection and analysis tools are added. As end users start asking questions about their data that would have been impossible to answer just a few years ago, they will gain new insights previously only dreamed of. And with growing BI success, their wish lists for tools to further reduce inefficiencies and loss will really start to grow.