1. What is BI and how can it help Canadian Tire? In the case there are 10 common challenges of BI implementations, which of these would you rate as most important for Eubanks and Wnek at CTC, and why? How would you address them?
Business Intelligence (BI) is the consolidation and analysis of internal data and / or external data for the purpose of effective decision-making. At the core of all BI initiatives is a data warehouse to hold the data and analytics software. The data warehouse stores data from operational systems in the organization and restructures it to enable queries and models to extract decision support reports.
The primary objective of BI was to support and enable business and IT strategies at CTC. In the architecture prior to implementing company-wide BI, there were major challenges such as multiple independent data sources not included in Information Warehouse (IW), lack of standard data definitions and consequent inaccuracies in the data, the strained resources associated with storage and querying the IW, and the increasing delays and denial of access to information required by the end-users. The purpose of BI implementation was to eliminate all these problems and facilitate better information for business decision-making.
Data quality and integration proved to be the biggest challenge at CTC. As the company’s IW grew dramatically after 1994, it was evolving on old infrastructure and a poorly defined data model. The data model did not reflect the data requirements of the business and because of the lack of standard data definitions, several versions of the truth could be extracted from IW.
This could be addressed through proper data sourcing, data management and data integration across the company. Historical data needed to be organized according to standard data formats and housed in the central data warehouse, and there had to be simple and easy-to-update access to meta-data. BI specialists should assist in organizing the data marts / views, retail analytic specialists should have access to BI tools and the data warehouse to perform sophisticated analysis and predictive modeling, and end-users should have instant access to information they needed to make relevant business decisions.
2. To what degree do you think CTC/CTR’s organizational structure influences the business intelligence initiative? Specifically, what challenges will the shadow IT groups raise for the implementation of the BI strategy? Is this important? Why or why not?
Influence of Organizational Structure on BI Initiative
We think CTC’s organizational structure influences the BI initiative to a great extent in view of the following reasons.
● BI analytics started at CTC in 1994 with the development of the information warehouse (IW). It began as a marketing project without an enterprise level plan. ● Multiple isolated BI applications were added to the mix along the way because the company was rapidly growing. CTC Information Systems (IS) were growing dramatically to meet these needs. ● BI became fragmented, because the IT group gradually took a more technical focus on IW, focusing on loading, transforming and extracting data to balance the need for CPU time for user queries against capacity constraints. ● Information was scattered in independent data sources, which were not managed in the IW, creating many different information standards for business users. Also, some data was just not available.
Specifically, the shadow IT groups raised a few challenges for the implementation of the BI strategy, as explained below.
● Shadow IT business unit groups represented substantial IT resources and hence cost. ● These groups worked outside of governance of the IT function and hence were not managed by the CTC IT group. ● The cost of these resources was unknown and hence was not considered in the high cost under scrutiny within the IT function. ● Shadow IT group resources also posed a...
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