But even more fundamental is another need: communication. BI and data analysis are technical disciplines. One of the largest problems in corporate management, strategic planning, and operational execution has been a gulf of understanding between line-of-business executives and people in technical roles.
The problem is two-fold. For decades, technical people have often been ignorant of the real needs and drivers of business. They frequently treat everything as though an extension of technology. The technical cart is put before the business horse, rather than having technology serve the business and its goals.
On the other hand, line-of-business employees and managers frequently are ignorant of technical considerations. They want to be able to ask for anything and have it delivered without acknowledgement of competing demands for resources. What seems to be an easy workaround for someone on the business side might upend a system that must serve all the company’s needs and protect information resources.
The only behavior any adult, including BI professionals, can directly control is their own. Understanding the needs of the organization is a foundational requirement. If that isn’t in place, the professional cannot pull information and insight out of data and put it into the right context.
Communication of BI basics is another action that professionals can attempt to provide context of a different type, as ITProPortal notes. There are some basic facts that professionals have to communicate to executives if BI is to work for the organization:
- The role of BI is as a decision support system. It can be connected to, but is still different from, such concepts as big data and data warehousing. BI cannot make decisions and isn’t infallible. Executives can benefit from it, but should not treat the information as revealed truth. The data is no better than the sources of the data. Decisions need the filter of experience and human understanding.
- BI can take many forms, including statistical analysis, predictive modelling, self-serve data visualization, and enterprise applications. A company may use BI in virtually any business activity. In any case, someone must help make sense of what the tools show. Insight man require specific knowledge of a particular part of the business.
- The implementation of BI is complex. It requires support from all levels of the company, can be expensive, and will take time. There is no “instant insight” available for the cost of installing an app.
BI professionals can help executives understand the power, limitations, and realities of the technology and its use. The more management knows, the more realistically it can approach projects and the greater a chance there is of eventual success.
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