Prepare for two modes of business intelligence, says Gartner

IT needs to open up business intelligence to the broader business to support its consumerisation

IT needs to open up business intelligence (BI) to the wider business to support its consumerisation.

In doing so, BI teams can fund new initiatives and support agile working practices, according to analyst firm Gartner.

Speaking at the Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit in London, Gartner research director Dan Sommer said: "We live in a world of 50% and we need to expand our thinking."

Gartner estimated half of all BI projects are initiated by business, not IT. Business users are increasingly looking at employing external data sources, rather than data collected internally. But according to Sommer, BI investment does not reflect this.

He added: "More than half of investment in BI goes to data discovery. But the other 50% is still about BI dashboards."

In fact, Sommer warned that BI is still focused on running analytics on internal data, while users want greater access to external data streams – especially given that 50% of business data now lives in the cloud, according to Sommer. "Many new data sources are emerging that are external to the organisation."

Information management as a specialist IT area is also under pressure from the business sector.

Sommer argued that CIOs and heads of analytics need to consider whether they need to own information or support wider BI in their organisations. He warned: "Completely centralised BI leads to fragmentation. Citizen developers make things happens in your organisation. Business units can behave like tech startups."

So rather than controlling all BI, IT can enable the business to develop its own analytics.

Make BI part of the business

Given the consumerisation of IT, Gartner uses the term Bimodal IT to describe the two ways IT needs to operate. "The traditional BI team needs to continue developing clear best practices, with well understood business objectives and a focus on security."

But according to Sommer, there is a second mode of BI which is more fluid. He said such use of BI is highly iterative with unforeseen data discovery and is allowed to fail fast.

To fund this second mode of BI, Sommer recommended that IT offers the business self-service reporting, allowing end users to create their own BI reports.

Gartner research vice-president Rita Sallam said: "Today there are a lot of best practices and there is good reason to go with certainty and there will always be a need for standard report." 

But she warned that the days of th BI team's role as a producer of reports is numbered. Instead the BI team should adopt digital business where analytics is part of the business.

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