The Three Pillars of Business Intelligence – and Success
Metrics and Analytics 02.16.2022

The Three Pillars of Business Intelligence – and Success

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In this episode of Sunny Side Up, Alina Gubavu, Director of Analytics and B.I. at Microsoft, shares her change management philosophy. A voraciously curious lifelong learner, she has expanded her roots in Romania and taken flight in the world of business intelligence. Reflecting on the key elements of her success, Alina recognizes the power both in being a mentor and staying perpetually open to mentoring. Progress comes in pieces, she says, and it takes a network pulling together to identify, sort, and leverage those pieces. Change management is a cornerstone to Alina’s work, helping organizations optimize operations through business information, data analysis, and decision-making support. But none of it works without intentionality, clearly identifying goals and mitigating risks. Productivity means different things to different companies, but there’s always a value-add available if you can get buy-in and stay open to what’s on the horizon. “See change happening,” she says, “and embrace new waves of change in order to continually grow your business.”

About the Guest 

Alina is a proud Romanian at origins and living the time of her life in Washington state (United States), where she moved with her family right before the first COVID lockdown in March 2020. She enjoys spending her spare time with friends and family while personally growing through her well-being activities, winning each day, and making the most of her experiences in the USA. On a business note, she currently leads the B.I. and Analytics strategy for Microsoft’s Small Medium, and Corporate customer segment and has been with Microsoft for 14 years.Her organizational agility demonstrated sales competence, customer-centricity in all operational excellence activities, ability to find growth opportunities in the addressable market, and building team cohesiveness are the core attributes that compose the foundation of her personal value proposition. 

Connect with Alina Gubavu

Key Takeaways

  • Alina shares her thoughts on mentoring and how it’s a prominent priority and value.
  • Three complementary pillars of change management are intertwined and mutually supportive: business information, analysis, and decision support.
  • There is no one path forward, which means there are multiple ways to try, succeed and fail.
  • How to deploy a flexible framework in delivering B.I. Projects.
  • When it comes to B.I., it’s important to recognize that not all data is equal.
  • Alina outlines exactly how B.I. delivers value.
  • A look ahead at what elements of change management are here – and here to stay.


“Growing others is such a powerful skill … and nobody gives you the authority to be a sponsor. You choose to become a sponsor by knowing that there are people around you whom you can grow with.”

“There is no one way. There are multiple ways, and you better pursue many and fail at many in order to find the right one.”


Highlights From the Episode

Alina reflects on her personal and professional journey.

Gratitude is a key descriptor for Alina, but courage is what has underpinned her journey. From her upbringing in Romania to digging deep to find her unique personal gold, she has been able to set high expectations and open her mind wide to a world of possibilities. Her education has been key to a successful career that has hopscotched through Europe to the U.S. In Microsoft, she has found a corporate culture that mirrors her hunger for change and growth.

Thoughts; mentoring and sponsoring others.

Alina considers herself one of the world’s most coachable people. She has always solicited the wisdom of those with more experience. Building on the concept of “It takes a village,” she has always believed that two is better than one. Improving, re-inventing, and building upon anything in life depends on networking and mindshare. And, whether you’re the mentor or mentee – growth occurs on both sides of the equation. The ultimate goal for Alina, who is zealous about goal setting, is to realize her potential by serving other people. It’s something that requires intention and a commitment to building and investing in others – as her sponsors have done for her over the years. If you’ve figured yourself out and reached some level of professional competency, it’s time to expose yourself to helping and being helped. Alina shares thoughts on one of Microsoft’s mentoring programs, a tool for growth and nurturing. She loves coaching for the questions that most challenge her to step outside of herself.

Change management’s critical role in business intelligence.

Alina shares a current story about facilitating B.I. Strategy for a Microsoft client and the important role change management has had to play in establishing alignment and buy-in. She believes that program management is critical to keeping up with many moving parts and other operations variables. In moving beyond the planning stage, the task of business intelligence is to amplify change and results. Agility is critical to supporting the three main elements of B.I.: business information, analysis, and decision support. Alina is focused on delivering outcomes that are in lockstep for her clients with what the organization needs in as timely a way as possible. Process optimization requires change and flexibility, which ultimately translate as measurable success.

More about three pillars within the B.I. Space.

Alina reinforces her belief that business intelligence is dependent primarily on high-quality information, astute analysis, and decision-making support. Some people get lost in technology and analytical tools but at the end of the day the value of any B.I. is driven by the insights it provides and the impacts it helps to create. At the heart of business intelligence, orchestrating myriad pieces of information and then synthesizing them into actionable initiatives. In order to make B.I. strategically important, you need to find a way to tell people – either internally or externally – that not all the data matters. Data can at a certain point generate a certain amount of noise that needs to be parsed and, where necessary, discarded.

How B.I. at Microsoft creates value?

Change is a hidden pillar in creating value across projects, with three key elements that drive an effective program: 1) Performance management 2) Process improvement 3) Decision support. Alina is constantly focused on the framework that provides metrics for success. It’s a constant process of redefinition, optimization, and designing the right infrastructure to support sales. Data offer insights, which demand superior decision support in order to sort priorities and change strategy. 

Change Agility versus Change Strategy

Alina sees change agility as the most foundational challenge because it’s about changing processes, structures, and decision-making systems. Change strategy is the softer side of the equation, in which people and processes come together to evolve and adapt. For Alina, peer-to-peer is a critical component of change strategy, whatever the circumstances. But the journey dead-ends without buy-in from employees who embrace new metrics and systems. By creating what Alina describes as “networks of knowledge” companies can tap into the transformational “power of many” in creating impact.

What does Alina see on the horizon?

Change is here to stay, so be ready to adapt. Leveraging data will be critical, but exercise discernment. Be deliberate about what data is applicable and will optimize how you run and grow your business. It will be especially important amidst all the noise and unknown quantities to be scrupulously clear about each and everything that drives productivity for you and your company. 

Recommended Reading/Resources


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