We, Not Me: The Impact Of Siloed BI Thinking

Ina Felsheim

The final blog in my 3-part series, this post addresses convincing the various lines of business and departments that the needs of the “we” outweigh the needs of “me.”

Example 1

A consumer packaged goods company was trying to determine revenue, market share, and cost for some of its global brands. However, the brands had different, localized names in many of the regions. Given regulations, some regions “owned” their brands, and other regions were more closely tied to the global brand. While 9.28-imageeach region, with different sets of products in the global product brand, was able to see their individual performance, rolling up the information to global decisions was incredibly difficult. This difficulty inspired the company to start an information governance initiative, with BI as the clear driver for those corporate decisions. As each of those regions customize their calculations, definitions, and usage of the fields, the problem becomes even more hidden and slippery.

Keep in mind: you are not taking away autonomy from these regions or lines of business. Instead, you must make choices. Of the 800 customer fields available, which 30 need to be consistently rolled up to a corporate decision? These are information governance policies that also directly affect your use of trusted data sources and how you gate access to that data.

Example 2

A tools manufacturer had an online store as well as storefronts throughout the country. Each individual store owned its own inventory and had responsibility for stocking the right mix of tools for the current region and season. Nice, right?

However, this autonomy creates a problem for the overall enterprise. The tool manufacturer now has great difficulty in predicting future needs and trends. Scaling up production and identifying new innovation areas is now much more complex, because the enterprise cannot get consistent visibility into each store’s data—much less successfully merge that with the on-the-ground sales force and the online store.

One customer summarized this nicely for me. He said that one of IT’s core responsibilities was to look out for the goals of the “we,” and translate them into deliverables, guidance, and systems for the “me.” To do that, they need to be able to speak in clear business value—and risk—for each of the lines of business and regions.

These are some techniques you can use:

  • Conduct an information governance assessment to help you determine which key fields need to contribute to global decisions, and therefore need to be consistently defined, used, and manipulated. Write these decisions down in your information governance policies.
  • Document the business impact of the contributing data elements, including which KPIs, decisions, and reports use these data elements. This information needs to be in a central, visible repository.
  • Manage core, global calculations in a common layer, like an enterprise semantic layer. These decisions help you trust the data in your reports. For a customer story on this, see this video.
  • Make informed choices—and communicate them in terms of business value and risk—around which data elements can be extracted and modified in data silos, and which need to come from trusted, enterprise sources.

I hope you enjoyed this blog series. Please let us know if you have a “me” or a “we” mentality at your company!

Read the other blogs in this series:

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