Who Should Own the BI Competency Center? - InformationWeek
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8/17/2008
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Rajan Chandras
Rajan Chandras
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Who Should Own the BI Competency Center?

This question came up at the end of a Webinar last week. One expert's response was: assuredly, the business should own the BICC - business intelligence is all about business, and business ownership brings along business commitment. Another expert disagreed: given the various technical complexities related to business intelligence and data integration, BICC, she thought, is probably better managed by IT...

Business Intelligence Competency Centers (BICC) are all the rage, but it's clear that experts still disagree on a fundamental precept on the matter: Who should own the BICC?

Last week I had the opportunity to listen in on a Forrester Research Business Intelligence webinar (moderated by Doug Henschen) on the topic of BI competency centers. The question as to who should own the BICC came up at the end of the presentation. One expert's response was: assuredly, the business should own the BICC - business intelligence is all about business, and business ownership brings along business commitment. Another expert disagreed: given the various technical complexities related to business intelligence and data integration, BICC, she thought, is probably better managed by IT.What did not come out in the discussion (possibly for lack of time) was a key aspect of creating a competency center: business architecture alignment. A BICC is, in a sense, a "Research & Development center" ...usually with additional operational and enforcement responsibilities thrown in. It is the job of the BICC to stay aware of technology and business developments, try out proofs of concept, etc., "help establish viability, technical issues, and overall direction, as well as provide feedback" (Wikipedia), define and implement/enforce enterprise standards and practices, and support operations.

To be successful, it is important that the BICC be aligned with the business architecture of the enterprise, from a management and budgeting perspective. Sometimes the BICC is established out of pre-planned, concerted action at the executive level. Often, I suspect, the BICC "just happens," typically arising from the efforts of a CIO/Deputy CIO or senior-level business/IT manager who is driven (or consumed) by the perceived benefits of business intelligence, and seeded by one or more successful BI projects.

More important than who owns the BICC (in personnel terms) is the question: what qualifications are needed to lead the BICC? I think it boils down to three traits:

• A keen interest in strategic as well as operational business challenges, and the ability to work with business on alleviating these. • The ability to initiate and lead standardization and conformance across the enterprise. • Last but not the least, the ability to nurture a learning organization.

These "abilities" are loaded, and leading a BICC is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor. Only the intrepid need apply.

(Incidentally, check out the following articles for more on BI competency centers:

What's Your BI Competency Center Quotient?Gartner BI Summit 2008: The Next Generation of InnovationThis question came up at the end of a Webinar last week. One expert's response was: assuredly, the business should own the BICC - business intelligence is all about business, and business ownership brings along business commitment. Another expert disagreed: given the various technical complexities related to business intelligence and data integration, BICC, she thought, is probably better managed by IT...

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