Friday, April 16, 2010

Business Intelligence Requires Thinkers

The emerging turf war between information technology (IT) departments and business intelligence (BI) analysts is reaching a crescendo as the vanguards of these interest groups meet in the void between. Clearly, the topological space between technologists and analysts has become blurred as the commoditization of knowledge assets into technology encroaches into the vital knowledge domains of subject matter experts and professionals. At stake is the future of vast human and structural capital formations, and while IT departments continue to herald BI as a technology function, the voices and concerns of business analysts are starting to be heard in the executive suite, especially as BI becomes a form of competitive advantage between firms in the new millennium. Arthur Ritchie of SAND Technology concludes that analysts will require greater access to controlled data resources in order for BI to fulfill its potential:
In my view, unless talented analysts are given unfettered access to whatever corporate data they require and the ability to analyze it as they see fit in the context of the many external data sources that are available, we will continue to find ourselves unprepared to deal with the unexpected. Implemented correctly, corporate Business Intelligence (BI) systems can support an organization’s best analysts as they challenge traditional business dogmas and develop a practicable way forward based on the facts, as recorded in detailed corporate data. To achieve this, IT departments need to stop acting as “data jailors” who strictly control which data will be accessible, in what form, and start empowering creative thinkers to realize their maximum potential, be it in marketing, manufacturing, distribution or some other field. In order to do this, however, IT departments need to start acting more like a power utility service: enabling “decision support” (to revive an older term for BI) by providing corporate information or raw data as required, in the right amounts at the right time, while also serving as “consultants” who help end users access the data they require, when and how they need it.
Ritchie’s central argument is that BI systems must work to support BI production as defined by analysts’ requirements. The fact is that BI is not only a production process that requires systems, but also a thinking process that requires both ad hoc and post hoc analysis and testing by subject matter experts. The future of BI requires restoration of the decision support function. Moreover, analysts rather than technologists must assume greater responsibility and leadership over the overall BI effort.

Source: Arthur’s Blog

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