They are usually in such a big hurry to get all of the BI requirements from various functions taken care of, that they form a massive, centralized BI effort and that succeeds rarely!
BI efforts have to go through their own maturity processes for them to take root and become successful. Businesses are constantly evolving, BI technology is also evolving in parallel.
Here are my guesses as to the level stages of BI Evolutions in companies:
a. Initial Exploratory Beachheads
b. Tentative Cross-function Operational BI
c. Enterprise-wide Integration and Attempts at Single Versions of Truth
d. Customer or Client Focused BI
a. Initial Exploratory Beachheads: Sales and Finance are the first two functions to try any kind of BI. Slicing and dicing sales data by region, zone and sales personnel hierarchies and analysis of Financial performance are two of the initial exploratory beachheads in most companies.
b. Tentative Cross-Function Operational BI - In this stage, sales data begins to be combined with financial data, manufacturing data begins to be combined with financial data and cross-functional operational questions are answered by BI in this stage. What was the cost of the things we sold in various product lines, regions, etc? What was our cost of manufacturing various product lines?
c. Enterprise-Wide Integration and Attempts at Single Versions of Truth: In this stage, enterprise wide integration of various systems happens and attempts at single versions of truth are made. The recent upswing in interest in MDM (Master Data Management) products and services is a classic example of companies trying to bring their various repositories of information together and have them all make some kind of sense. For example, a bank may have different systems handling their Bank Operations and Financial Products. When they try to cross sell a bank customer on financial products and vice-versa, their systems may not be easily linked without an MDM product that bridges the different electronic identities of the same person within their systems.
d. Customer or Client Focused BI: When all your internal systems are integrated, then you are ready to focus completely on the single version of a client or a customer within your organization. Surprisingly Internet Commerce has created a whole new wealth of information about a client or a customer purely based on their online actions. This information is sort of driving a lot of companies to this level of BI Evolution faster than it would have been otherwise.
Driving an organization through the different stages of evolution is not something that can be hurried up. It has to take its own time and effort, unfortunately. Users of BI that have gone through an evolutionary process of figuring out what they needed in an iterative way are likely to be more successful in creating and using BI than organizations that have rushed through a BI implementation effort.
It is wiser to find out than to suppose - Mark Twain.