Operational BI (embedding BI into the operations of the organization), event-based marketing (triggering customer communications from behavior pattern changes) and contact optimization (ensuring timely, relevant communications) are a few of the powerful applications. However, along with success comes heightened visibility, and if we are lucky, increased demand for new capabilities. One mechanism that data warehouse teams employ to stay ahead of the curve is the BI center of excellence (COE). As with other popular BI terms, there are many definitions for COE. I have two favorites that I think complement each other quite nicely. The first definition is one that my organization, Intelligent Solutions, Inc. (ISI), developed: “The COE is the set of people, processes and technologies for promoting collaboration and the application of best practices. This includes methodology, best practices, education and training, support services and technology awareness.”

I think of this as the working person’s definition of a COE. It reflects the nuts and bolts of what must get done to allow the data warehouse team to expand as needed to meet increasing demand. A primary role of the COE is to define and document best practices, templates, training programs, communication programs and standards. Unfortunately, this takes time - particularly the defining part. The more people that are involved, the more potential there is for differing standards, lack of documentation, conflicting definitions and overlapping (or worse, underlapping) processes. This is particularly true when the list of projects is long, resources are scarce and potential for becoming a bottleneck is high.

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