Recently I was a guest speaker for a group in Montreal talking about how to develop a business intelligence (BI) center of excellence (CoE). During the presentation I had two different audience members ask variations of the same question. The essence of the question was this: How does a business unit sell the concepts of BI and the CoE to the IT group? In both instances, the business unit had built a local data warehouse with little or no IT help. Both business units had reached the point where demand for integrated data (inside and outside the business area) was growing, but the current level of technical resources available in the business made supporting the data warehouse difficult and scaling it impossible. Both viewed the CoE as a possible path out of the resourcing conundrum they found themselves in, and both recognized the time was ripe for transitioning the data warehouse to IT. Unfortunately, the IT groups had little data warehouse experience, and the business/IT relationship was a bit strained. One of the questioners said to me, “As I listen to you talk, I realize that my department is the CoE, and we should not be - so how do we sell IT on the need to expand their skill sets, take over the warehouse and build a BICoE?”

The first time this question was raised, I gave a quick and simple answer: teach IT about the benefits of data warehousing, take them with you to a TDWI conference and show them that other IT groups have long since ventured into this territory. When it came up again later (placing me squarely in the hot seat for brushing it off the first time), I realized that I have become lazy when presenting on the CoE - falling into the habit of assuming that IT has to sell the benefits of a CoE to the business and not the other way around. To give the question the attention it deserves, I needed to shake off my somewhat complacent IT-centric perspective and take a walk on the wild side (adopt the business viewpoint).

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