Conquering International BI

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Globe ImageThinking of deploying BI globally for the first time? Prepare for a crash-course in cultural sensitivity. Remember that green ‘thumbs up’ KPI you implemented for that manufacturing company in Florida? Don’t expect to replicate that report in Greece- it can be taken as an offensive sign in certain regions. The ‘pre-deployment’ stage of your International BI conquest should include brushing up on cultural norms, traditions and politics. Even fundamental International Business techniques such as learning a few key words in a client’s native language can prove essential to building a solid relationship.

Sensitivity to these seemingly minute cultural details can seal trust from a client for a life-time, or create distrust and misunderstanding, potentially tarnishing a reputation. Deployment of an international BI project is where things tend to get tricky, but have the potential to be highly rewarding if done right. Your first plan of attack should be on location. Whether it’s traveling to a country to do work locally, or working remotely across twenty time-zones, location is extremely important. As a consultant seeking requirements for a BI ecosystem, it is important to respect an individual’s local time when soliciting requirements over the phone, Skype or email. No-one likes phone calls during dinner, so be conscious of who you’re communicating with- if that means you need to make a 4am phone call; do it.

Once the location logistics have been settled, it’s time to lead the charge on processes and requirements. It is important that each business unit receive reports that are relevant to their location, division, and culture. Failure to do so could lead to mass adoption in Europe and complete failure in South America- negating the benefits that a unified BI ecosystem would typically bring. Proper reconnaissance on the data systems utilized by each division will ultimately lead to far more cohesive BI Competency Centers. There are no short-cuts for international BI deployments. It may take longer to collect, analyze and report on the results of your findings; however failure to do so will most certainly result in a failed implementation. As renowned International BI expert Peter Thomas (@PeterJThomas) would say, “If you are inaccurate or incomplete in your understanding of the business, then you are building on foundations of sand.”



When he is not focused on preventing the next economic meltdown, he is an avid Business Intelligence and analytical whiz kid. Nate naturally leans towards understanding the business before jumping into carving out a solution. He has an incredible affinity and appetite for BI tools. Caution: His enthusiasm is infectious.

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