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Putting The Business In Business Intelligence

Michael Brenner

Putting Business in Business IntelligenceBusiness insight happens when we least expect it, and it certainly doesn’t wait on IT support.

The most compelling of all the reasons an Aberdeen Group report cites for adopting visual and interactive business intelligence (BI) as part of a BI strategy, giving business managers the tools to explore their ideas in real time – without waiting eight days for IT to add a column on a report. The trend was clear in 2011 and has only evolved since: best-in-class organizations have embraced the notion of BI self-sufficiency.

Aberdeen highlights two key elements of self-sufficiency. Both challenge IT to rethink what and how it controls access to and use of corporate data.

Self-Service BI

Fully empowering the business community to analyze data without direct help from IT starts with an interactive, easy-to-use tool. To quote an IT manager from the survey: “The right solution is going to require a minimal amount of training – half a day at most. Here’s the tool, here’s a couple of use cases, have at it.”

Then, beyond selecting the right technology, IT needs to take responsibility for making the rich pool of corporate data available to business users. IT can also consider enabling business users to add data sources as a way to extend and enhance the information it provides.

Power Users

Those business people who are always willing to explore and experiment with the tool can be a powerful driving force to self-sufficiency. Aberdeen found that the most responsive BI implementations have a decentralized IT support structure, where support staff is embedded within the business units. Formalizing the role of the power user can provide this type of localized support.

The survey also notes that best-in-class companies have formal programs to continually develop and grow the skills and experience of the business community – for power users and less technically able managers alike.

For more takeaways on leveraging interactive BI tools, download Agile BI: Complementing Traditional BI to Address the Shrinking Decision-Window.

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About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, Head of Strategy at NewsCred, and the former VP of Global Content Marketing at SAP. Michael is also the co-author of the upcoming book The Content Formula, a contributor to leading publications like The Economist, Inc Magazine, The Guardian, and Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to the Marketing Insider.