Bringing Business and IT Together for Better Business Intelligence

Remember when business groups and IT used to work together in perfect harmony? If a business group needed help launching a new customer-facing service, implementing a new technology that could improve internal efficiency or analyzing data to generate new business insights, IT could deliver a solution right away while keeping enterprise data secure. 

You really don’t remember?

For many organizations, it’s been a long time since business groups and IT have worked together smoothly. The rift probably started decades ago, when specialized IT personnel were first hired not only to support computer systems but also to manage databases. As IT expanded governance policies to better protect enterprise data, they created environments that could not easily be changed. Business groups then became frustrated with the resulting lack of agility. Today, business groups and IT groups are distinct entities, with separate budgets and sometimes different buildings.

Unfortunately, the divisions between business and IT can cause serious problems, especially when it comes to business intelligence. In many cases, there are too many versions of the truth. IT groups often keep data in multiple, closely governed silos. When business groups extract data from a silo and store it elsewhere, that data can quickly become out of date. Ultimately, IT, sales, marketing and other groups present different figures to executives, who then have difficulty making the right decisions.

The lack of trust and communication that develops between business and IT can jeopardize the success of new business intelligence implementations as well. A large percentage of business intelligence deployments fail not because of software problems but because of conflicts within the organization.

What can your organization do to bring business groups and IT together, and improve business intelligence?

Facilitate communication and collaboration

It might seem obvious, but you might start by creating teams with representatives from both areas. Some larger organizations have had success creating business intelligence competency centers, which integrate technical and nontechnical people in a collaborative team. Be patient, though: It could take a few years to build a competency center and have it working the way you want.

Support flexible thinking — and hire flexible thinkers

Change will happen only when you have people able and willing to challenge the status quo. Some companies might need to hire innovative, flexible thinkers who can come up with more than one way to solve each problem. Of course, even traditional companies can innovate, but they might have to employ new tools or services that can help them move beyond traditional thinking.

Choose the right tools

Once you’re on the road to addressing organizational conflicts, you need the tools that can help deliver the insights business groups need while maintaining the security and governance required by IT. New business intelligence solutions should support a data-agnostic approach, work across all data sources and help eliminate the problems caused by data silos. In addition, they should allow both technical and nontechnical staff to analyze information and discover new insights. If you want to heal the divisions between business and IT, you can’t restrict business intelligence to IT specialists.

If the days when business groups and IT worked together seem like a distant memory, it’s time to do something about it. With the right approach the right tools, you can create an agile, innovative and collaborative environment that delivers new insights across the enterprise while keeping data secure.