Re-Engineering Business Intelligence

Ever wonder why Business Intelligence initiatives so often falter? Earlier in my career as a BI Architect I was certain that technology was the culprit. If only we could architect better BI solutions, build better data models and implement more robust ETL then certainly the stakeholders would find something to embrace! Improving technology became my passion; from years of research emerged an architectural framework that would ensure extensibility, scalability and a robustness not commonly seen in BI solutions for most clients. I learned that each of the BI architectures – data, reporting, ETL, security, integration (to name a few) – were highly interdependent and should not be individually considered.

Unfortunately, I also learned that technology alone would never solve the most endemic problem facing BI: rates of adoption by the business are staggeringly low. During the past four years, my focus shifted from improving technology to driving adoption. With the help of Centric colleagues, we re-engineered the way that BI is delivered and governed. We shifted from IT-driven to business-driven BI initiatives. We moved from heavy upfront requirements to agile BI generating frequent production rollouts. We built toward process integration rather than toward reporting.

And then something miraculous happened: adoption rose dramatically. Business executives became highly engaged and the BI initiative thrived. We can talk all day about BI Centers of Excellence. Indeed, these centers are valuable, but they will never yield higher ROI on their own. Neither will technology. The key is putting the business folks in the driver’s seat and delivering a decision-making capability that does not exist today. So the next time we look to Big Data, mobile, columnar data stores, in-memory analytics and appliances to excite organizations about BI, let’s first step back and ask, “what decision can’t you make today?” and let’s deliver that.

Jeff Kanel is a Senior Manager and the National Business Intelligence Practice Lead.