Let’s call him Eric. Because after the interview Eric decided he’d better remain anonymous. Some of his answers could cause too much controversy in the organization, a major European logistics company.
Eric is BI manager in this company and when listening to his vision, his worries and his concerns, it is like taking stock of the most common disconnects between IT and the business.
Question: What struck you the most when reading the book “Business Analysis for Business Intelligence”?
Eric: I think you have documented your book well and chose a useful starting point. Most literature in Business Intelligence (BI) is divided in two categories. On one side you have a myriad of theoretical works on strategy and management, performance management and the inevitable scorecards and dashboards. On the other side are plenty technical publications available discussing IT performance and optimum data structures. What many of these books lack is a vision of how business and IT should join hands to produce optimum BI results. From my 20 years’ experience with BI, this is a serious problem.
Question: What are the major impediments for your performance as a BI manager?
Eric: I see three roadblocks: IT is either unaware or unwilling to admit that BI cannot be standardized. But the business itself is not always capable of producing crisp and consistent definitions to produce a coherent analytical frameworks changes its mind”. And last but not least: the complexity of some analytics also causes a lot of problems and is –of course- compounded by the two previous roadblocks.
Question: Why would IT not be aware of the need for flexibility? Some IT guys we know say stuff like “The business guys always change their mind”
Eric: No, it’s not about business changing its mind because that can be prevented through thorough analysis as described in your book. It is more about the prejudice that BI solutions are templates you can use anywhere. IT people underestimate the uniqueness of each business process and its context, culture and informal issues that make every business unique. Management can shift its attention and rearrange its priority list in days and weeks. If IT can’t follow, the users look for ad hoc (and often badly architected) solutions.
Thank you for sharing this with us, Eric.
To our readers: don’t hesitate to share your experience with the gap between business and IT in BI. We can all learn from this!