Current business intelligence (BI) and data warehousing trends and recent changes in the market, raise the question of whether we’ll have the ability to decipher what BI applications will look like in the next few years. The promise of pervasive BI, increase of on-demand solutions and the expansion of general BI offerings due to the cycle of acquisitions, present many possibilities in terms of how BI will be deployed within organizations. The main question centers on whether large-scale adoption of unstructured data analysis, real-time BI, etc. will become the norm or continue to be implemented by few.


Generally, vendor offerings give organizations the ability to get ahead of the curve with in-depth and advanced forms of analytics that, if used correctly, can turn data-intensive insights into business-driven solutions based on data visualization tools that bring complex algorithms to dashboards and reports. Consequently, the main goal becomes to merge the two, bringing business and IT together to simplify business decisions through the use of technology.


Although BI can be developed, deployed and maintained without heavy IT intervention, the fact remains that IT and business convergence is required to build front-end applications that are most usable by end users and that best utilize information from within and outside the organization. On-demand solutions are poised to make the use of IT obsolete, but in reality the vendor/service provider actually takes the place of the IT department. This means that organizations not working with IT should consistently work with the vendor managing their data to identify the key business issues and the required supporting data. This not only helps identify where the data resides, but also how it interacts with other data sets and how to best utilize information to drive business decisions.


Business and IT Collaboration – Why Does It Really Matter?


At one point, the concept of cohesion between business units and IT was all the rage. The industry was a buzz with ways to promote organizational cultures of cohesion. With the option of on-demand solutions taking center stage, thoughts have turned toward the idea of business units outsourcing IT activities - especially for dashboards and reports and to enable BI that is easy to deploy. In these cases, internal IT departments are not required to manage back-end data or to design front-end applications. Consequently, business units may not see the importance of IT expertise that is industry specific. Even with on-demand solutions, however, an organization benefits from the vertical expertise of the service provider.


The collaboration between IT and business units enables businesses to access the right information required to make better decisions. But what is the real value added for businesses that choose to align themselves with IT? If organizations can have their IT requirements managed and outsourced, do the internal IT environment and internal resources become less valuable when looking to implement BI?


Realistically, most organizations deploying BI use the traditional model of internal IT staff to manage and develop the data warehouse as well as to develop reports and front-end tools that can be deployed organization-wide. For IT departments to deliver value and create applications that extend beyond the super user, it becomes essential for IT to understand the business units, business needs and problems. Unless data is transformed into information that is valuable for the end user to make informed decisions, the full value of BI may not be harnessed or accessed at all.


Lack of IT


BI applications can be applied without added input from IT and can still become powerful tools for the organization, including key decision-makers and line of business managers. However, this depends on the structure of the organization, knowledge of employees, and the level of understanding of how information interrelates and how to best leverage what is available to make better decisions. As long as end users understand the importance of information and how to leverage the data stored within their organization to create actionable results from data analysis, the type of solution chosen (i.e., on-demand versus in-house) may not matter when considering the role of IT.


To really take advantage of what BI has to offer, it is essential to understand information. From a business perspective, the ability to decide what data is useful and what can be excluded becomes crucial as not all information stored internally is required for advanced decision-making. On the other hand, IT’s understanding of business and what makes decision-makers tick become important when developing solutions that are tailored to end-user needs as opposed to being pushed upon decision-makers within the organization. Instead of developing tools designed for super users, business’s increased understanding of IT, whether sourced internally or external to the organization, will help with the development of applications that become pervasive within the organization.

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