Business intelligence is not just another IT project

13 Dec 2010

CIOs must ensure that business intelligence (BI) programs are treated as a cultural transformation of the business, instead of as an IT project, according to Gartner.

Leading organisations are using key parts of BI, such as decision modelling and support, to ensure all workers, managers and executives can make the right decisions in a given business situation.

“Traditionally, BI has been used for performance reporting from historical data, and as a planning and forecasting tool for a relatively small number of people in an organisation that relies on historical data to plan ahead,” said Patrick Meehan, research vice-president at Gartner.

“Modelling future scenarios permits examination of new business models, new market opportunities and new products, and creates a culture of opportunity. In this way, workers not only see the future, but often create it.”

Using information to provide intelligent insight to improve business performance is a major challenge. CIOs can provide leadership by developing a cross-enterprise perspective of information and processes supported by technology.

Gartner has highlighted three initiatives that use BI to create intelligent businesses:

Focus BI efforts on delivering the right information to the right people

Apply a business process orientation to BI that connects horizontally across functional areas and outwardly to partners, customers and partners. To keep strategy execution on track, BI must address all staff and management levels in the organisation.

Change the mindset from more information to answering the right questions

Champion the value of decision impact. Ultimately, a relentless focus on a very limited set of burning business questions will guide users toward BI-enabled decisions that have maximum impact on business strategies and goals.

Create project teams based on information needs

Create project teams based not just on who owns the data, but also on departmental interest in the information that will be generated. Breaking down silos of data ownership will send information flows up and down management chains as well as across functions, which in turn will create decisions with higher impact. Unless business decisions exploit organisations’ interdependencies in this manner, their impact will fall short. The business decisions with the biggest impact never exist in isolation.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years