On more than one occasion, and always more frequently, I am asked what the real value generated by a BICC initiative [Business Intelligence Competency Center] is.
Certainly it is a fair question for people in the company that is at the beginning of this path and feel it as a "discipline" that could lead to bottlenecks, absorb resources, quickly dampen the enthusiasm and then add more frustration to the ongoing projects.
We must all recognize that today there are not yet studies and researches on this subject, covering a significant time horizon, and so my approach often points to an intelligent balance between caution and a think positive attitude. My past experience has shown that a well structured BICC produces much more progress along the BI Roadmap than what is achievable though any other component of the BI Program. The role should be interpreted quite so visionary as the Evangelist.
Greater attention must be initially dedicated to identify BI opportunities and this imposes some discipline to proceed with an assessment - and often this aspect is overlooked because of the obvious ordinary workloads weighting on the internal staff of the company. I always suggest to initially focus on an informal process that helps the cohesion of a first group of resources that are freely able to absorb and share a new BI culture, going far beyond the aspects of reporting and data lineage.
The best results are obtained usually by pointing to the BICC service center: a pool of resources, tools, best practices, and solutions that are easily accessible to users, shared and repeatable over time.
The dissemination of experiences and services across the different functions and business unit definitely helps the line manager and his staff to transform the BI point of view and move some decisions from tactical to the strategic plan.
The everyday reality confirms that while many companies are entering the BICC within their strategic vision, the small-medium enterprises must first be convinced of the advantages attainable and often require a quantification of the these benefits. The value is recognized in every business and every level by a careful evaluation of the positive aspects of team coordination, the balance between investment in technology and training and especially on "spreading" new best practices.
Another interesting aspect on the BICC value is in the demonstrated ability to support and stimulate the business at the right time, when you need to focus on new information, and make comparison with the market lateral movement (emerging markets, changing customer profile, product innovations / services, ...).
In words, this switch must always be simple and of course needed, in reality I had a hard time to overcome a conservative approach, suggesting to go on analyzing "the information that you know well and from which we get the answers we expect."
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