Business Intelligence Competency Center

The topic of competency centers and centers of excellence is coming up much more frequently in recent months. Some of the questions that I hear consistently include: How do we define standardized metrics across the organization? What are best practices for implementing and managing a BI system? Where do we start, and what’s the best rollout approach – by department, business unit or region? How can we leverage the knowledge and skills of BI experts in other departments to help us?

Business Intelligence has become a core part of the enterprise IT environment. Most companies and public agencies either have BI, or they are trying to implement it. Selecting and deploying BI tools and applications represent only part of the overall formula for success. The Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC) draws together the software, people, communication, processes and governance. It can create leverage and increase the ROI of the entire BI program.

People: CXO sponsorship and leadership, and detailed project management are key to driving the visibility and impact of a BICC. People representing stakeholder groups must be fully or partially dedicated to a BICC organization, with their compensation tied to specific outcomes.

Processes: standardizing toolsets and processes will help ensure consistency, lower cost, lower risk and faster implementations. This may mean, for example, that SLA’s are negotiated with constituent groups, that BI Applications are initially deployed with 90% pre-built content, or that LOB’s become responsible for their own reporting and analysis.

Communication: establishing a Competency Center means zeroing in on practices and competencies that everyone can use. It may also mean that some processes and some job content may have to change. Continuous communication about the rationale and the benefits is necessary to get, and to keep everyone informed, aligned and motivated.

Governance: silos of information and software, different and competing interests, friction between business and IT – these are all a part of life in large organizations. Among the roles of the BICC are assessing differing points of view, establishing standards for data format and quality, technology and processes, and enforcing policies and guidelines for user adoption. Governance must have teeth and be backed by management, or people will default back to inefficient silos.

Oracle provides a technology approach to Business Intelligence that supports and enables the concept of a BICC. The Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation is a single platform supporting all types of source systems, applications, analyses and use profiles. Our single enterprise information model is a cross-functional data model that enables people to agree on a single set of metrics. Oracle BI is tightly integrated with Oracle Middleware and Oracle Applications, simplifying deployment and management of the stack.

For some organizations, the hard part about creating a BICC can be defining a centralized structure and bringing about sustainable organization and cultural change that’s needed to support it. The upside is faster deployments, increased collaboration and alignment, lower TCO and risk, and higher ROI across the business. The BICC is a concept whose time has come.

I’d love to hear your experience, successes and challenges in establishing a BICC in your company.

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