Business Intelligence (BI) enables organizations to efficiently monitor and manage their business activities with the help of analytic applications that leverage an enterprise's data sources. Selecting the right BI software is only one component of a successful BI implementation. The true challenge lies in bringing the different requirements and approaches of the IT team and the business units together to avoid conflicts of interest, time gaps, and – at the end of the day – project failure. So, how do you begin to approach this enormous task in a practical way?
For years, Gartner has been promoting the idea of what they call a 'Business Intelligence Competency Center' (BICC) – an internal, dedicated team that develops and bundles resources to successfully deploy business intelligence.
In more detail, a BICC is described as a cross-functional organizational team that has defined tasks, roles, responsibilities, and processes for supporting and promoting the effective use of BI across an organization. According to Gartner, the BICC should role out BI technologies, define the company standards and project priorities, and ensure that the BI that's deployed is aligned with the business needs.
BICCs are still not in place at many organizations, and we've seen a wide range of variances in the composition of BICCs. Nevertheless, the concept has spurred the creation of business units that concentrate on ensuring the usage of relevant information for decision-making provided by BI software and on increasing the return on investment (ROI) of BI.
From a process point of view, a BICC has to coordinate activities and resources to ensure the systematic implementation of BI throughout the enterprise. It oversees the movement of the organization toward information-based decision-making, so it’s vital that those involved have a thorough understanding of the corporate directives regarding BI, as well as all analytical programs, projects, practices, software, and architecture. Furthermore, the group should should be responsible for setting up plans, creating priorities, infrastructure, and competencies that the organization needs to leverage BI effectively. According to Gartner (and we at arcplan can confirm), operating a BICC enables your company to:
- Preserve and exploit the full value of your BI investments
- Standardize all analytic and BI processes and initiatives
- React faster to business changes
- Reduce overall risk of improper implementations and project failures
- Support end users by fully understanding available data and acting properly on analyses
- Ensure that BI knowledge is shared throughout the enterprise
Successful BICCs embrace initiators, users, and implementers of BI solutions. Therefore such teams should consist of business-oriented IT people and IT-oriented employees from the business units, e. g. finance, marketing, and sales. A purely IT-driven BICC will lack the required business alignment to be successful. Knowledge transfer, analytic skills enhancement, and training are central to the BICC's role. A BICC should be essential in ensuring a high degree of information consumption and enhanced ROI for BI. Organizations with a BICC take advantage of the following benefits (source: BetterManagement.com):
- Increased usage of BI
- Increased business user satisfaction
- Better understanding of the BI value
- Increased decision-making speed
- Decreased staff costs
- Decreased software costs
Can your organization do without a BICC in the future? Our experience tells us that large organizations with many business requirements/end users/on-going BI projects really benefit.
What do you think? Leave us a comment!