One of my favourite songs is “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”, a signature U2-styled track. To change the song title up a bit when thinking of BI, the title becomes “You Can Never Make It On Your Own”. Business Intelligence is a discipline that spans many areas of IT and the business, and you need all stakeholders fully engaged in your BI program to be successful.
Due to the nature of BI architecture and applications, we are always downstream of other IT systems as they are our data source. You must be tightly integrated with the other groups within IT managing these systems, as any changes can impact the availability and quality of your data. For example, it is a well know fact within Data Governance programs the more you push the resolution of data quality issues back to the source systems, the more effective the solution. BI is also a data hog, requiring large amounts of storage and processing power to analyze your organization’s data. You need to have all the IT stakeholders invested in your BI program to ensure you have the relationships to keep your BI architecture stable.
Most importantly, BI is not an IT discipline, it is a corporate discipline. Many BI organizations sit within IT under the accountability of the CIO, but in many other organizations this function may be centralized under Finance, Marketing or your corporate governance function. That assumes that you are lucky enough to have a centralized BI function at all, in most organizations you will find BI scattered throughout the organization. If we go back to the concept that this is a corporate discipline, we should be doing everything we can do encourage widespread use of common BI methodologies to maximize value.
Once you realize that you have many areas in your organization doing and supporting BI, it will become apparent that a decentralized structure is what is necessary. To drive the maximum effectiveness you need to have some common thread pulling these groups together. Having a competency centre type approach, where you provide common standards, access to data, and a means to collaborate are essential for success.
I will be writing a lot more about developing a competency centre to support BI over the coming months, stay tuned!