My youngest son recently turned 10 years old. And, the sad reality is that in many ways, he doesn’t need me that much anymore.
In fact, if I wasn’t so unwilling to give up in my role as his mother, I am quite sure that he could manage to get through an entire day without my help. Thankfully there is a lot more to life than just pouring yourself a bowl of Cheerios. Somebody actually has to make sure that there are Cheerios in the house… and for that matter, milk.
What does this have to do with the business of IT?
My role as mother is to empower my boys with the tools and resources that they need to be increasingly self-sufficient and to drive toward their own personal goals. As an IT leader, my role has always been to empower the business users and to give them the tools and resources that they need to propel the business forward.
I had to stand on the step in order to appear taller than my oldest!
Just as my relationship with my boys has evolved as they have grown, business users are much more tech savvy today than ever and it is important that we adapt our methods of delivering IT solutions accordingly. One example of this is happening is Bring Your Own Device or BYOD where business users take on at least some responsibility for self-support of their own technology devices. Another great example is the move toward self-service Business Intelligence where IT departments maintain discipline around their core mission (security, data integrity, scalability, etc.) while business users are provided with tools enabling them to answer their own BI questions allowing them to move at the speed of business.
Gartner’s research note: “How to Deliver Self-Service Business Intelligence” outlines a model for the critical issues that surround delivering a self-service BI capability and includes three key recommendations for IT leaders, all of which we see in organizations using QlikView:
- Reevaluate long standing organizational models with the objective of creating a stronger partnership between IT and the business.
There are several recommendations in the paper including physical co-location of IT professionals with the business as well as changes in organizational structure. The form that these changes take will vary from firm to firm but the objective should be the same which is to create an environment that fosters stronger partnership between traditional IT roles and business roles.
- Establish governance models for certifying business user driven development.
The reality is that business users already have a long history of developing BI solutions for themselves. (I myself am a recovering Excel addict.) However, it is becoming apparent there have been serious business problems caused by the unfettered use of Excel to support critical business processes. Therefore as we empower our users with new self-service BI tools, it is critical that we also put in place the data controls and governance policies necessary to ensure consistency and the integrity of the resulting business decisions.
- Increase the reach of BI throughout the organization through the adoption of consumerization technologies
Here the recommendation is to widen the use of business intelligence by supporting all of the ways through which business users may want to interact with the data. Specifically highlighted here is the idea of moving beyond static reports and enabling interactive dashboards, visualizations and search.
A point highlighted in the paper which resonated especially well with me as a mother was the idea of giving the right amount of capability to each business user. My two boys are 5 years apart in age and sometimes it is easy to forget that they need different levels of support. The same is true for our business users. Although any business user can gain valuable insight from an interactive QlikView application with only minutes of training, not all users will be able or even want to be able to develop applications of their own. It is important to provide a platform which can deliver capability to both types of users as well as those in between and to help all users grow in how they use BI for themselves.
I am personally passionate about improving the partnership between business users and IT and would love to hear from you!
- Are you in IT? How has your relationship changed with your business users over time? Do you think it is for the better?
- Are you a business user? How can IT do more to empower you to meet your goals?