The weather for this year’s Orlando-based ACORD/LOMA Systems Forum was decidedly un-Disney-like, with nearly continuous rain forcing conference-goers and vacationers alike to find alternate means of amusement as their children literally climbed the walls.  
That didn’t stop those on the show floor, however, from embracing the magic. No, it wasn’t the Mickey-Mouse-in-the-wizard-hat-type magic in which Disney World specializes. Instead, it was the magic of the dashboard—as in business systems dashboards replete with analytics and valuable business intelligence. As one who looks for trends at these conferences, I couldn’t help noticing that many of the vendors in the exhibit hall were pushing their dashboard capabilities this year.  
For example, SunGard announced a new analytics model for its iWorks EIM product that provides “interactive business intelligence dashboards to help insurers manage their distribution channels, understand market dynamics and quickly adapt business tactics accordingly.” CSC was touting its Business Analytics product with “new customized dashboards that can incorporate data from external sources with data stored within” the enterprise. And FirstBest Systems, which has been in the dashboard business for a while now, announced “dashboard features” for its FirstBestAgent product.  
Why all the fuss about dashboards? Well, to the business user, the dashboard is like magic—instantly throwing up trends and analyzing data to enable the business operation to make better decisions for the company. The data input, business rules, systems interaction and any coding are transparent to this user, and that’s just the way he wants it. And newer systems go even further, allowing non-IT users to make changes to the rules where they see fit, with no help from the company geeks.  
The appeal here is that business users, many of whom already are uncomfortable with speaking to IT, don’t need to interact with those tech people in order to get the benefits of what is essentially a technology product. But is it a good idea to shut IT out of the process completely? Is it possible they could play some positive role here?  
I believe that in our enlightened age, we need to realize that IT is just as critical to the business as any other area of operations. Executives might feel more comfortable avoiding contact with IT, but getting the most out of your operation and your investment in technology has to be about more than just being in your comfort zone. And let’s face it, the minute the dashboard isn’t telling the business user what he or she wants to know, won’t the first call be to IT?  
It’s all well and good to have business users be comfortable with a technology application, but it is sheer foolishness to exclude your technology experts from participation, especially since they may even come up with some neat new ways to improve the product’s performance. The problem is relational, but the loss to the business shows up in a lower margin of profit.  
Isn’t it time we all grew up a little and learned to share the credit and the blame in the corporate sandbox? Does business have to suffer because of personal fears or jealousies? Or can we all learn to play nicely together?  
Have a magical day. 
This article can also be found at InsuranceNetworking.com.

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