Over the past two decades, we’ve seen a broad shift away from traditional waterfall development methodologies in favor of more agile and iterative approaches to developing and using software. Everywhere you look nowadays, agile development principles are helping companies build products and processes better and faster.

So why is it that so many companies still struggle to get business intelligence initiatives off the ground? Because although they may be adopting an agile approach to report development, their overall data strategy is stuck in the past.

In my experience, the breakdown starts when organizations try to modernize their analytics programs one layer at a time. The obvious way to do this is to start with data quality. After all, if your data isn’t in good shape, why do anything else? Trying to ensure all data (and the systems around it) are perfect before opening it up to users is a classic waterfall approach—and it’s a big mistake.

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