BI minus IT

As I read Business Intelligence (BI) newsletters, company websites and blogs a common theme emerges: people are sick of waiting for IT to deliver what they need because if and when they finally do it is usually way too late.

This is not new. Many years ago, while working as a product manager, I watched order desk staff struggling with catalogs the size of phone books (both thankfully now obsolete) and took some night school programming courses so I could create a computerized cross-reference of competitors’ part numbers. Thinking I would be congratulated, I was instead reprimanded. (The order desk staff thanked me.)

Flash forward a couple of decades and not much has changed. One place I worked, users knew more about SharePoint than the person who was supposed to be administering it and were quietly using features like workflows that IT considered “dangerous” (translation: features IT did not understand and did not feel they had to learn or support).

Movements like BYOD, personal clouds and self-service BI are user rebellion against the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality of most IT departments. When all arguments are exhausted, IT usually falls back on the “security” catch-all objection.

Most modern business analytics tools stress the same feature: getting it done quickly without IT involvement. At this rate, most IT departments will be reduced to simply “keeping the lights on” and will become increasingly irrelevant when business strategies are being formulated and executed.