Treating Your BI Project Like an Entrepreneurial Startup

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As a proponent of agile data warehousing and business intelligence, I [Ken Collier] am constantly looking for new techniques for delivering value to customers faster, adapting to their feedback, and evolving toward the right business solutions (regardless of initial requirements). I recently read the new book, Lean Startup by Eric Ries (Ries, 2011) and it has rocked my world. In the short time since this book hit the shelves in September, 2011, it has exploded in popularity. Be forewarned, this book is about entrepreneurship and high-tech startups. It isn’t about data warehousing, BI, or analytics ... or is it? / #BusinessIntelligence #DataWarehouse    #Entrepreneurs  
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Ries points out that “The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere.” Lean Startup techniques follow a Build-Measure-Learn feedback cycle. This cycle begins with an idea or hypothesis immediately followed by building a minimal viable product (MVP). Customer response to this MVP is carefully measured and the resulting data provides the basis for learning and adjustment. The goal is to move through this cycle as fast as possible, and as many times as necessary to converge on the product that customers want.
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Two critical elements of this cycle are the MVP and the validated learning that is based on scientific testing of customer acceptance. The MVP is the very smallest, fastest thing you can introduce to your customers to gauge their response. For a business intelligence “product,” this might be a disposable prototype report or dashboard mockup populated with snapshot data. For analytics, it might be a mockup of a scoring algorithm based on a rudimentary predictive model. It is the simplest version of what we think customers want, so that we can find out if our assumptions are correct. / #Dashboards   #Analytics  
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Once we have correctly discovered what customers want, then we can use agile BI techniques to build, refine, and mature the solution. Ries describes this approach as “…killing things that don’t make sense fast and doubling down on the ones that do.” This theme makes as much sense for BI directors as for startup entrepreneurs. / #BuildResilience  
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Data warehouse and BI program leaders are entrepreneurs within the enterprise. It is the job of these entrepreneurs to quickly determine which efforts are value-creating and which are wasteful. / #GrowIncome   #SaveMoney  

Posted by +Dan Durrant 

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