I just finished reading this great article by David Caruso of Information Management, "Bringing Agility to Business Intelligence," which focuses on the challenges organizations face in trying to get their BI deployments to keep up with the pace of their organization. The overarching premise of the article is the slow and methodical nature of BI is simply not agile enough to keep up with the speed of today's business. This is a perfect encapsulation of one of the most common problems business users face today.
Caruso does a great job pinpointing the problems - and why current solutions come up short. For IT teams wanting to help make BI users more agile, the answer lies in streamlining workflows and business process - not simply delivering "analytic tools faster and at a lower cost."
Why is focusing on the workflows the imperative? Forrester Research recently surveyed BI decision-makers and found that 70 percent faced business requirements that changed monthly or even more frequently. Simply put - our business processes and workflows are a dynamic environment, and the new speed of business means that IT simply can not keep up with the demands of the business user. It's counter productive and often times forces the IT team to become a de facto development shop, which takes away from their everyday, mission critical duties.
The new rules of business do not mean that we need to simply add layers of architecture onto current BI investments to make them useful to the business user. This is the knee jerk reaction a lot of businesses have - and is how organizations end up making the problem worse. You see this in any business with data siloed in Excel or similar forms solutions. This isn't a cure for the overall problem and can further diminish the value of your BI investment.
Organizations and IT need to allow business users to adopt applications that give them control of their data and enable them to streamline their workflows. This means going beyond simple web forms or spreadsheets, and adopting solutions that automate the rapidly changing workflows that business users face every day.
Until businesses focus more on the workflow and less on the data, they'll continue to miss out on the value BI investments could deliver and perpetually be locked in data silos that hinder user productivity, effectively removing the "intelligence" from the overall equation.