For all the lessons of big technology investments, there is a lingering perception that businesses are on the verge of automating their way to productivity. A variety of finance, HR, content management and portal applications have certainly greased the rails of day-to-day business, but they have also brought the need for new skills, and added levels of responsibility to existing positions. An example of this is enterprise resource planning, which automated transactions but - despite the expectations of many - did little or nothing to automate processes. ERP was an evolutionary step that spawned a much greater number of supporting applications, all with related job requirements. Like a M.C. Escher drawing, Business Intelligence initiatives never seem to come to an end point. Executing a successful business intelligence initiative inevitably leverages technology, which in turn spawns roles more multi-dimensional and labor intensive than the jobs it eliminates. Gartner Inc. confirmed this at its recent Chicago BI summit, releasing a survey that finds larger enterprises will need two to three times as many business intelligence personnel by 2008 as they needed last year.

As we noted in the April issue of BI Review, human resources are increasingly being taxed in areas of business intelligence for both simple and complex tasks. "You'll bring on more subject matter and external sources, you'll expand usage not only to internal constituents but to external ones include customers, suppliers, shareholders, government agencies and maybe the public at large," according to Howard Dresner, VP and research fellow at Gartner Inc. "Fundamentally, organizations aren't prepared for that and honestly, most aren't doing a good job managing internal demands for BI."

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