Question: In your opinion, where is the best place for a business intelligence (BI) application to reside? Should it be in the front office/headquarters/strategic planning, in the IT department, with the CFO or with some other department?


Tom Haughey’s Answer: There are different kinds of BI applications. Some BI applications are data marts. A data mart is defined as an environment containing a specialized collection of related data, customized for a specific community of knowledge workers, analysts or planners, to support their reporting and analysis needs. These are specific to a particular group.


Another form of BI application is an enterprise-wide reporting system. This should be centrally located.


Some BI applications are not part of the data warehousing (DW) architecture, such as operational reporting applications. Given this definition, I would say it belongs close to the primary user group.


A recent trend in DW is data mart consolidation (DMC). This can take many forms. One method of DMC is collocation of data marts, which can help lower the total cost of ownership of data marts – a cost that is far higher than most organizations realize because it is often hidden. It lowers it by reduction in infrastructure costs. ETL requirements for loading data and backup/recovery should also be considered. Finally, in another sense, why does it matter where the BI application or data mart is located? With the networking capabilities of today, we have consultants in Moscow doing work on New York systems as though they were down the block. I propose you consider eventual consolidation (i.e., collocation at least) of the marts and/or BI applications.


Sid Adelman’s Answer: IT should provide the infrastructure, the tools, the training, the database, metadata repository, support, measurement and the ETL process. The business is a partner in this enterprise and should be the data owner with responsibilities for determining data security, requirements for response time, availability and data quality. The business users will perform some of the analysis, run the queries, receive the reports, validate the results of the queries and reports and pay the bill.

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