For years technology in corporations has been at odds with the businesses it was supposed to serve. CEOs and CIOs alike bemoaned the lack of alignment between IT departments and business unit operations.
Eventually there came a shift where increasingly business executives began to take control of IT operations, having a CIO report to a CFO or even putting an executive from a more traditional business background in charge of IT. Cloud computing and mobile devices only accelerated the trend, as any department could find hosted versions of software it wanted and get access with a corporate credit card.
The process has extended to business intelligence. Once BI was a thoroughly IT-centric undertaking because of the difficulties in getting data, analyzing it, and making use of BI tools.
That is no longer true. A growing number of vendors are shipping products that non-expert users plug data into complex systems, like predictive analytics, to get results. And users are taking them up on it.
Removing the difficulty of BI is vital. A medium to large enterprise could easily have hundreds of employees and managers, if not thousands, who would benefit from quick and thorough data analysis. No company has the number of IT experts to provide everything the users need. Here’s what Pablo Licheri, head of information management at Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the biggest bank in the world, told Forbes:
We share everything with the departments and share with them all of our tricks. We tell them to hire their own data scientists. In IT we have an infinite amount of demand, and we know that if we try to keep the knowledge it doesn’t scale. We try to empower the business users with more tools and data and help them advance their analytical capabilities while being as independent as possible from IT.
Mobile BI has only increased the attraction of business intelligence that isn’t so gated by an IT department, as ComputerWeekly.com reported:
Over the last few years, a trend has emerged for companies to look for a more accessible, more lightweight and more flexible form of BI. And one of the main reasons for that trend is a desire to access BI from mobile devices. “We’re seeing more CEOs and CFOs being direct users of BI. After email, BI is the most popular application,” says Joao Tapadinhas, a research director at Gartner, an analyst firm.
What BI professionals need to understand is that the old patterns of an almost technical priesthood that would deliver results to users is gone. If you’re in BI, you need to learn how to build and manage systems that let users get what they need while maintaining data integrity and analytic rigor and accuracy.
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