An Rx for Business Intelligence Success?

Buying BI technologies before taking stock of the business lay-of-the-land is a lot like putting the cart before the proverbial horse.

Want an Rx for success in business intelligence (BI)? You’d do well to mind your B’s and M’s, for starters, say Gartner Inc. researchers, who argue that successful BI practitioners must first come to grips with their business objectives and metrics before they can start shopping for enabling BI technologies.

“Through 2009, overcoming complex organizational dynamics and having the skills to use business intelligence more broadly will become the most significant challenge to the success of business intelligence initiatives and implementations,” said Betsy Burton, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, in a statement. “Best-in-class organizations focus on business objectives and use a business-driven approach to define and scope their people, process, application, technology and/or services strategy.”

To deploy bread-and-butter BI technologies—such as operational reporting or ad hoc query and analysis solutions without first taking stock of the business lay-of-the-land is a lot like putting the cart before the proverbial horse, says Burton. Fact is, she argues, BI is about a lot more than just information dissemination—i.e., reporting, ad hoc query and analysis, or other tried-and-true BI disciplines. Instead, Burton argues, organizations should embrace BI as a catalyst for positive change and as a means to improve performance among diverse user constituencies, as well as across the processes, applications, organizations and technologies that support and enable them.

As a result, Burton and Gartner say organizations should consider creating Business Intelligence Competency Centers (BICC) to help ensure that they’re getting the most value from their BI investments. BICCs study the key ingredients (such as justification, scope, budget and technologies or services) that help produce successful BI efforts. They also help educate users and business leaders about the merits of BI, as well as provide training services for users. BICCs also provide a context in which business analysts and IT gurus can collaborate to drive BI evolution. By 2009, Gartner estimates, more than 60 percent of Global 2,000 companies or government agencies with cross-enterprise, strategic business intelligence initiatives will have formed BICCs.

“Demands of the competitive environment mean that business intelligence will become more pervasive across business applications and processes, supporting an increasingly diverse set of users,” Burton said.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.