The One Working Way to Pervasive Business Intelligence

Originally Posted on February 4 2011,

I came across this Wayne Eckerson's article on B-EYE network.

In short, he had the occasion of talking about Dashboards to an audience composed by CFOs and, surprise!, they are interested in things different than those we usually speak about with IT people.

They have different targets, different points of view and a different approaches to the subject.

They do not understand what we give for granted and confront us with questions we might not be ready to answer.

He thinks that it has been an enlightening experience.

While Wayne has all my praise and respect, he's a world level expert, no doubt on this, I humbly point out that I've been telling this for years.

It is our job to understand other people's job and provide them with tools adequate to their requirements.

It is our job to speak their language, not ours.

It is our job make them understand the basics of our job to make them fully appreciate it.

Do you want to make Business Intelligence pervasive? Sell it to the business people! Talk to the business people! Work with and for the business people! Make BI a business thing and forget the IT!

I keep seeing consistent efforts from the vendors toward "big data" or "columnar" solutions. Many BI clients have user interfaces so beautiful to be a work of art. A lot of effort is devoted to moving BI to cool devices like the iPad.

Thank you, but we do not need that, at least it is not our principal interest.

We need something blazing fast to be implemented, modeled and customized which speak the business language and not the IT language. We need something that business is willing to pay for because they understand what they're buying.

Lastly, we need something along the lines of #newBI to actually improve the grasp that managers have on their companies.

This is my point of view, I would like to hear yours.

I like strong debates, so do not be shy!


newbi, businessintelligence

4710 views and 4 responses

  • Feb 4 2011, 3:20 PM

    Hiran de Silva responded:

    Absolutely right.
    I am described by some as an 'IT consultant' but I do not work for IT departments. They are nice chaps, don't get me wrong. Some of my best friends are IT chaps :)

    It's like this. I worked in accounting and finance for 15 years total. In this time I taught myself some programming to get my job done better/quicker, and that of my department. I loved it so much I chose to do only that, I mean writing solutions and making other people's work easier for them. And I learned to program to a higher level.

    My point is this. I have found, as you have Gus, that business users and IT people live in a different world, talk a different language, live for different things. So even before we begin to communicate we have to acknowledge there is a gap to be bridged. But how?

    Traditionally (and you are right) we say the IT people must learn about what the business users do and understand their speak. Actually what I have found in my experience is this .... (drum roll) ... it is EASIER and more practical for (some) business users to learn just enough programming to be effective (for themselves and their teams) than for IT people to learn the business user's 'purpose' (which must be to the standard that convinces the business users that they have empathy with them).

    The greater shift towards self-service helps. I have this blog topic I must write about people confusing these two things ... 'Management OF the technology' and 'Management WITH technology'. The former is the responsibility of IT, the latter is the job of the users (if they want to be productive and add value by being so). When we confuse the two we expect the wrong people to do the wrong job. But that's another story ... shall blog.

  • Feb 4 2011, 3:40 PM

    Augusto Albeghi responded:

    Still awake?
    The key point is "easier for SOME business users". The bulk of the line of business people will never consider programming as a man's job. They will likely not even have the notion that value can be added by programming, or even by IT. In countries like the UK or the US, often, technology is seen as an enabler, but I can assure you that in the latin world technology is merely a cost! One of the battle I often have to fight is adding an account like "IT investments", I've seen many CFOs think that it is an oxymoron!

  • Feb 4 2011, 4:03 PM

    Hiran de Silva responded:



    From: Posterous [mailto:

  • Feb 21 2011, 8:03 PM

    Roman Stanek responded:

    "Do you want to make Business Intelligence pervasive? Sell it to the business people! Talk to the business people! Work with and for the business people! Make BI a business thing and forget the IT!"

    This sounds like a page from GoodData business plan. And more and more our customers start to understand that this is what our service give them. No columnar or bigdata mumbo-jumbo but a business service that helps them to understand their sales, marketing, support and other analytics needs. In days and at a fraction of the cost of other IT initiatives