dinsdag 21 mei 2013

What BI Programs and Enterprise Architecture can learn from the European Union

Despite the critiques –be they justified or overly exaggerated nationalist BS- on the European Union, this new organisation form of nations has taught us an important lesson.  It is the lesson of combining economies of scale where this can create extra value for all its citizens with the opposite movement: to leave enough room for local  government to respond to local demands and culture. Keeping local flexibility may incur a cost but it also produces value: keeping a maximum of EU citizens on board of this superstructure and maintain a level of diversity that feeds the evolutionary process.

Take the EU Directive, as the EU[i] defines: A "directive" is a legislative act that sets out a goal that all EU countries must achieve. However, it is up to the individual countries to decide how. On the other hand a regulation is more strict: A "regulation" is a binding legislative act. It must be applied in its entirety across the EU.

What a wonderful metaphor for Business Intelligence Enterprise Architecture (BI EA): directives and regulations based on the subsidiarity principle.

As the EU defines the subsidiarity principle in the Maastricht Treaty and confirms it in the later Treaties as well:

1. The general aim of the principle of subsidiarity is to guarantee a degree of independence for a lower authority in relation to a higher body or for a local authority in respect of a central authority. It therefore involves the sharing of powers between several levels of authority, a principle which forms the institutional basis for federal States.

2. (…).

3. Under the second paragraph of Article 5 of the EC Treaty there are three preconditions for intervention by Community institutions in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.

a. It must not be an area which comes under the exclusive competence of the Community.
b. The objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States.
c. The action can therefore, by reason of its scale or effects, be implemented more successfully by the Community.

Replace Community with Corporate Information Management  and Member States  with Business Units,  or line management  or  user groups,…  and there you have it: a sound philosophical and legislative basis for Business Intelligence Enterprise Architecture and program management.

In the 25 years I have been active in BI and CRM, I hear the same discussions over and over: the rigid architecture regulations struggling with local flexibility the business needs to deliver maximum added value. If the BI EA could grasp the essence of subsidiarity and change his regulations into directives, Business Intelligence departments and information management would get more buy in from the business customers without creating chaos.

Gartner’s Research VP Andreas Bitterer[ii] said, “IT leaders should concentrate not only on the technological aspects of BI, but also on the severe lack of analytical skills. Second, they should use a ‘think global, act local’ approach in their BI programmes to provide the right level of autonomy and agility to avoid the bottlenecks that overly centralised BI teams create, while simultaneously establishing enough consistency and standards for enterprise-wide BI adoption.”

There is a lot of truth in this. Let’s hope more and more organisations will heed the warning from Mr. Bitterer and learn from the EU.

[i] http://europa.eu/about-eu/basic-information/decision-making/legal-acts/
[ii] Predicts 2012: business intelligence still subject to non-technical challenges by Gartner Research

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