Business intelligence (BI) applications are gaining popularity by expanding focus beyond IT departments and super users toward general use across the organization. Although BI may be considered technical, the general push is toward deploying solutions that enable business unit self-sufficiency. Whether it’s due to the focus on midmarket or on-demand solutions, the way BI is being used is diversifying. The fact remains, however, that there will always be a need for IT managed solutions, and there will always be organizations that choose the traditional model of BI deployment.


Factors such as the emerging focus on software as a service (SaaS) models, operational BI and the expansion of application use both horizontally and vertically are enabling BI to be viewed as a beneficial business application. Additionally, BI is the bridge sitting on top of collaboration tools and dashboards that enables use of real-time information as well as broader interoperability and interaction with other organization-wide applications.


The impact of BI use and the ability to identify the value associated with applying this same technology to IT departments is not unnoticed. For instance, software offerings targeted at IT departments that enable network traffic analysis and identification of how end users use computer resources are becoming popular for organizations that want to track how IT is being used, how end users are spending their time at the office, the collaboration between employees and network utilization rates. With increased organizational attention to reducing energy consumption, the ability to track where resources are spent and who is doing what helps IT target and manage resource allocation. Consequently, managing the performance of IT is becoming a market of its own. The use of BI applications to identify network trends and how IT resources are being allocated across the organization enable organizations to learn how to assign resources, reduce waste and identify trends of collaboration and how the current environment is being optimized.


As organizations look for alternatives to IT-intensive projects and maintenance, they concecrate on how business units can utilize BI applications without IT backing. On the other side, many organizations still follow the traditional route by utilizing IT to develop and maintain their internal computer systems. Therefore, how IT continues to manage BI applications remains important.


Coming Full Circle


Two trends are emerging to address the needs of IT. The first is BI-related applications that are geared toward IT departments. This includes vendors such as Knoa, eTelemetry and Teleran that provide software offerings with a focus on IT and networking performance management. By using the same principles of BI for IT departments, IT can identify how to most effectively and efficiently manage their environment.


The second shift involves vendors refocusing on the IT organization. This means that vendors, such as Actuate and Business Objects, are shifting their focus back to the developer community by creating intuitive tools for IT, enabling IT to take advantage of Web 2.0 technologies and making it easier to develop solutions for end users.


Both shifts are independent of one another, yet they overlap in relation to how IT is enabled and by giving IT the tools required to better support the business environment. On one hand, organizations can use BI for IT applications to better utilize internal resources and to develop the infrastructure for collaboration and Web 2.0 technologies by analyzing how the organization works. Knowing how people interact, whether business processes are being applied effectively and how organizations use the resources they have to make the best decisions, is one way to ensure that an organization is constantly evaluating ways to improve. On the other hand, a renewed focus on IT departments - and the developer community in particular - means that organizations with internal development resources can take advantage of new tools to develop better applications for their end users.


Why this Shift is Occurring


Although much attention has been placed on enabling business units to implement and manage BI applications without involvement of IT departments, the fact remains that many enterprise organizations will continue to have BI projects driven from the IT department. Consequently, a renewed focus on IT means that although there are transitions within the BI space, software providers also realize that maintaining their current customer base and enabling IT to better support the organization at large should remain a priority. Initiatives toward IT support and performance management enable the business to move toward the goal of business unit self-sufficiency. Overall, the transference of BI toward IT and enabling creativity in the developers’ approach to delivering solutions allows BI to be more widely applied across an organization.

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