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The BI Cliff

Cliff Danger SignI was traveling the last two weeks spending time with customers.   Many of them are thinking about where they are going to make their IT investments for next year.

A common theme is the need for self-service BI – pushing reporting and light analytics out of IT and into the hands of the business users.   I know what you are thinking – we’ve been doing this for years (though some might argue, not so successfully).   The difference now is that many IT shops have no choice.  They are facing a BI Cliff that will hurt their credibility and create friction with their business users.

Business users are clamoring for “big data” analysis and “real-time” analytics.  We used to queue up their report requests and set delivery expectations for weeks (if not months).   Now they have the expectation they should have all data immediately for visualization and modeling.  And all this has to be done without increasing the IT resources requred to cater to their needs such as:

  • Request/Workflow management
  • Report Writers
  • Data Stewards
  • Programmers
  • Dashboard Developers
  • Business Analysts
  • Data Administrators
  • ETL Programmers

BI Cliff

In my consulting business, we work hard with the business users to help them to clearly identify, qualify, and prioritize their BI and analytic needs.  We put the onus on them to justify the business need and the investment required from their organization to do the reporting and analysis they think they need.   We help them to understand that they are responsible for data governance – that they own the data and must master what the data represents and how it can/cannot be used.    Only then do we begin the IT planning for new tools and capabilities to improve IT productivity or enable self-service BI.

At the end of the day, IT and Business are attached at the hip.  If IT gets pushed over the BI cliff, they will take the Business users with them.   And no one wants that.

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