How relevant is "Business Intelligence" to the business?

Ask 10 people in IT to define “Business Intelligence” (BI) and they will. In fact, you will likely get 10 different answers. And very few, if any, will talk about specific business opportunities or challenges. In fact, most who define BI come from IT. Looking at some top BI websites according to xmarks brings you to sites that talk about tools, processes, and infrastructure. CIO Magazine’s Thomas Wailgum offers a number of definitions in a recent blog (What is Business Intelligence?)…all from IT.

Now ask the same question outside of IT. At best there is a blurry understanding of what BI is and the benefits that can be realized. And there is certainly not the passion that is found in IT. If you want keep talking to them, you better ask about their business.

Even with all the BI buzz out there, many non-IT people see it as a deep, dark hole into which budget dollars disappear. BI has become a process and infrastructure owned by IT that costs a lot of money with murky outcomes and benefits…especially when defining an initiative.

Rather than implementing a BI solution, organizations need to address business opportunities or challenges. Building a data warehouse is spend, but creating a solution that reviews store and item sales, alerts store managers to issues, explains how to resolve the issue, and monitors the results is an investment in the business.

Here is a simple question you should ask before commencing any effort: Are you getting more value out the solution than your investment within one year? If you are not or don’t know, then don’t do it.

Are you spending budget or investing in the business?

David Fields

Principal of Solve. Directs our Northwest Arkansas team. Works closely with clients to identify, scope, and manage engagements that improve business results through Business Intelligence and Custom Application Development.