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Guerrilla BI: delivering a tactical BI project

Andre Michel Vargas
The Architecture Journal
December 2009

“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” - Sun Tzu

Business intelligence (BI) offers a distinct competitive advantage. By transforming data into knowledge through BI, you can determine your strengths and weaknesses while better understanding your position in the marketplace. Whether it’s cost reduction, process optimisation, increasing revenue, or improving customer satisfaction, it’s more important than ever to run your business better and faster. Knowledge is critical to being agile and adaptive in a changing economy; a 1 percent head start can make all the difference. However, successful BI initiatives are traditionally lengthy and expensive. So, how can you affordably implement a winning BI initiative? Guerrilla business intelligence (GBI) delivers the insight that you need, in weeks.

The GBI approach is the following:

  1. Mobilise with speed. Reducing decision-making time is critical. This doesn’t mean that decisions should be made hastily; instead, speed requires preparation. In the first week of the GBI deployment, teams must be embedded with business subject-matter experts—thus, allowing teams to identify and address hot spots.

  2. Deploy small multiskilled teams. Form cross-functional teams to interpret your data, to gain insights on operational weaknesses and strengths. Teams can focus on anything from cost-reduction efforts and process-efficiency optimisation to market analysis for revenue opportunities.

  3. Infiltrate iteratively and collaboratively. Infiltrate iteratively through your business functions in four- to six-week deployments. Clear objectives and short deployments bring focus. Also, teams must collaborate with executives from each business function to ensure that GBI efforts align with overall business strategy.

  4. Leverage and extend your existing BI tools. Leverage existing BI technologies with agile implementation techniques to deliver value quickly. Then, expand on traditional BI tools (data warehouse, ODS, dashboards, analytics, and so on) with productivity-monitoring and optimisation tools. A small investment in these assets will allow your GBI team to analyse and improve processes and support cost-reduction goals.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu

Implementing a GBI strategy can provide a key advantage in today’s fluctuating economy. However, do not lose sight of the long term. Investing in enterprise BI remains essential. When signs of growth reappear, revise your BI strategy, including guerrilla tactics, for optimal success and return on investment (ROI).

“Know thyself, know thine enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” - Sun Tzu

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