Business intelligence is a hot topic in the IT world at the moment, not least because of the industry’s growing enthusiasm for big data-style solutions. Organisations are starting to get to grips with the idea that with a handful of massive datasets, comprising both structured and unstructured sources, they can make better-informed business decisions than ever before. In response, Gartner has predicted that big data will top chief information officers’ priorities right up to 2017.

That’s not to say that every business intelligence project is a success, however. Lots of organisations still make fatal errors in this area of software development, regardless of whether they’re attempting to roll out a visionary big data solution or something much more modest. They end up with systems that don’t serve a useful purpose, or that don’t get workforce buy-in, and as such don’t end up informing many business decisions at all.

To help you avoid falling in with the same crowd, here are five of the most common business intelligence mistakes made by organisations today.

You rush into development without making a business case

As in any area of software development, rushing into a business intelligence project without working out what problems you’re trying to solve is antithetical to success. It’s easy to get swept up in the hype surrounding a buzzword like big data, but as with any software project, it’s critical that you make a solid business case. Ask yourself: what are you trying to accomplish? What insights do you need? And will have the resources to act on them?

You don’t think about the security implications

In today’s climate, information security is under more scrutiny than ever. Regulatory frameworks like PCI DSS are of increasing importance in an age of gargantuan data breaches, while the EU is currently working to introduce a new data law – and much bigger fines for non-compliance – that will apply to all member states. The chances are, any project to leverage large datasets will include the use of some regulated information, so it pays to be aware of the implications – you might need to add a host of technical controls just to render your business intelligence project compliant.

You don’t consider how the insights will be consumed

Remember, data itself is just a means to an end – the real point of business intelligence is consumption, which typically involves the provision of executive decision-making dashboards. If these aren’t fast and easy to use, and accessible to both desktop-bound and mobile workers, then the success of the project as a whole might be jeopardised.

You fail to make your solution scalable and future-proof

If a business intelligence project is to deliver an ongoing return on investment, it needs to be scalable and adaptable no matter what you might throw at it. All too often, organisations rush into development without asking themselves whether they might need to include new data sources a few months down the line, or even just account for an exponential growth in the amount of information the solution will process.

You don’t act on the outcome

Finally, it should go without saying that if you aren’t acting on your business intelligence as a part of your day-to-day decision-making, then it isn’t really fulfilling a useful function. It’s surprisingly easy for this kind of scenario to arise, whether for reasons of staff ambivalence or because it fails to offer meaningful insights. Whatever the case, it’s important to ensure that business intelligence occupies a functional role in your organisation – it’s there to give you a competitive advantage, not window dressing!