Friday, July 12, 2024

Taking Control of Your Firm’s Business Intelligence App

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Still fighting to control the business intelligence systems in your organization? Analytics, data warehouses and performance management systems, known as BI tools, enhance decision-making, improve customer service, boost revenues and reduce costs. They are considered among the top priorities of senior business and technology executives these days, according to surveys by Gartner, BusinessWeek Research Services (BWRS) and other organizations.

All too often, though, Information Technology departments aren’t among the key BI stewards. While a recent survey of senior business decision makers found that CIOs and their IT departments are decidedly out of the BI loop, there are ways to get back in the game.

First, let’s look at the situation. Last year BWRS polled CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, COOs and other senior executives of U.S.-based organizations for their views on BI. Of the 359 respondents, 39% were C-level officials, 26% were their direct reports, while the remainder were other senior managers. Six out of ten were from companies with more than 1,000 employees.

When asked who were the key decision makers about BI implementations—deployment strategies, vendor selection, etc.—the most important player was the CEO (see graph below). Note that the CIO was only considered among the top three decision makers by 39% of the respondents. So the majority of company execs do not consider the CIO to be among the key BI decision-makers.

business intelligence decision makers

Wait, it gets worse for IT. When asked who is involved in BI deployment strategies, almost half of the respondents said the CIO wasn’t even part of the conversation. I was shocked when we saw the tabulations, and we did a major drill down.

One explanation of why so many CIOs aren’t even involved came from the responses to another question—which department owns the BI system. Finance, marketing and other line organizations typically own the BI system. Only about a third of IT departments own their organization’s BI system, according to the respondents (see graph below).

who owns business intelligence

That’s why so many CIOs aren’t even involved in BI deployment discussions—their departments aren’t responsible for the systems. Note that when we did a cross tab to isolate responses from large companies, the results didn’t change much—the majority of large companies keep BI control outside of IT.

To see the BWRS report on BI governance, click here. (Downloads as PDF.)

So what should you do about this? Given the growing importance of BI as the foundation of many organization’s strategic plans, you have to position yourself as a BI solution provider. It turns out that business units are struggling with three major BI challenges, and IT can help overcome these hurdles.

1) Data quality. This encompasses inconsistent data definitions, missing information, obsolete information, etc. IT can provide the right data cleaning tool, plus a dose of IT project management discipline, to cure the data quality disease.

2) Poor system performance. Growing numbers of BI users with ever more complex queries for dramatically growing data stores means a lot of complaining, lost productivity and missed business opportunities. The new generation of data warehouse/BI appliance can turbocharge their systems. IT can be a big hero in a hurry.

3) Missing info. The Google phenomenon is having a big impact on BI users’ expectations. They know that lots of key data are buried in email messages, Word files, web casts, PowerPoint presentations and other information sources outside of the cubes in the data warehouse. IT can introduce users to the wonders of unstructured data processing and other tools and methods of extracting key insights from this information.

Getting further involved as a BI problem solver provides another key benefit to IT—it leads to support for other projects. Once you’ve become the hero who solved the BI problem, you’ll be embraced to solve other problems, too.

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