John Zachman, the father of information architecture (and a really great guy to boot!), reported at a recent conference that 45 percent of all computer reports produced are never used. Of the remaining 55 percent, 70 percent are used for six months or less. He also indicated that 70 percent of computer printouts are used to re-enter data into other systems. One of the implications of these facts for data warehousing and business intelligence tools is that reports are not necessarily what they used to be. Business people want the flexibility of manipulating information directly. No one has time to "turn off" reports they are no longer using. In effect, the business is changing, and we have to help cause a culture shift in our organizations regarding the usage of information. When building a data warehouse, its implementers have a decision to make regarding user access--to control it or not to control it. There are reasons to do each, and making a choice about the direction to take regarding control of the end-user environment is one of the most important choices to be made in any warehouse implementation. It comes down to an issue of control versus empowerment.
Please realize that both alternatives have merit. Pursuing one over the other depends in large part on the overall information culture of the organization, including which information behaviors are rewarded or incented and which are not. For example, is fact-based decision making rewarded? Is it accepted to base decisions on an appropriate analytical process or rather on intuition? Is de-centralized intelligence valued or are all decisions made centrally? Answers to these questions will help develop the appropriate course to take regarding the deployment of business intelligence tools within an organization.
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