Business intelligence may be a growing trend among corporations because of the benefits they can get from better use of data. But growth won’t continue to happen by itself.
For all its work, BI has some serious challenges ahead. Companies, and the professionals they employ, need to recognize the limitations of the technologies, and how they’ve been employed, and then embrace practices necessary to further growth.
One of the major areas for adoption and improvement is self-service. The practice of information technology has changed significantly since 2008. That’s when the iPhone AppStore first opened.
Software had undergone a degree of democratization from the early days of mainframes and IT with the emergence of the PC. People in offices could go buy software for their computers and then do things that were useful, whether or not officially condoned by a company’s technology professionals.
With the rapid growth of iPhone sales and the advent of the AppStore, patience with official channels finally came to an end. People in business felt that IT had stifled them for years, so used the opportunity to outfit their pocket computers as they wished.
BI is in a similar position. No one wants to wait for some professional to pull together the data and create reports or visualizations or other display to get the data they feel they need. If business intelligence efforts are to work, technology professionals must find ways to make it directly available to users.
Cloud-based software extended the shift away from traditional IT. Now people could make use of sophisticated software systems that were housed and administered by third parties. It didn’t matter that IT people often had good reasons for being slow to adopt new hardware and software, including budgets, the need for support, and questions about how even apps might interact with complex software systems.
Cloud services have an impact on user expectations in such areas as instant provisioning, cross-platform availability of web-enabled services, and high levels of integrations with APIs. Not only do BI systems need to be freely available when desired, but they also need integration with the rest of a company’s infrastructure so that data and other software services are readily at hand.
BI professionals have a challenge facing them. They must work with both users and IT to make tools available in ways that can work with legacy systems and are convenient while recognizing that third-party tools may also be put into use. In BI, the role of practitioners shifts from high priests of data to facilitators who can cajole the environment to provide what is needed.
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