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What's Your BI Competency Center Quotient?

Competency centers are making headway in the BI arena, and they grabbed a lot of attention at this week's Gartner Business Intelligence Summit. BICCs are typically cross-functional teams that develop frameworks of metrics, goals and best practices that can then be shared with business units and departments throughout the organization. Here's what people are saying.
Competency centers -- a.k.a. councils or centers of excellence -- are making headway in the BI arena, and they grabbed a lot of attention at this week's Gartner Business Intelligence Summit. BI competency centers (BICCs) are typically cross-functional teams (architects, developers, support, analysts, line-of-business managers, etc.) that develop frameworks of metrics, goals and best practices that can then be shared with business units and departments throughout the organization. Ideally, they also ensure that goals are aligned with corporate strategy."We've had a lot of people asking us about BI competency centers," said Cognos' Michael Smith, senior manager of product marketing. "They're becoming a vehicle for broader adoption, but people want to know how to fund them and whether they should have a fixed or virtual structure."

Cognos customer Aviva delivered a case study presentation on its BICC at the week's summit, and Smith says he took a poll among the more than 200 attendees of his own presentation on the topic. "About 20 percent said they had mature competency centers, 40 percent said they were in the early states of development and another 40 percent said they're exploring the idea.

SAS customers TD Ameritrade and AT&T gave presentations on BI and performance management competency centers, respectively, and there was "standing room only," accourding to Ken Hausman, product marketing manager for data integration products. "Competency centers are developing reference architectures and they offer guidance on how applications are built," he said. "They serve as a filter for new applications, looking at established best practices, repeatability and governance approaches. It helps promote maturity and consolidation of BI technologies."

For its part, Gartner actively promotes what it calls "centers of excellence," and it shared BICC success stories including that of Absa Bank of South Africa.Competency centers are making headway in the BI arena, and they grabbed a lot of attention at this week's Gartner Business Intelligence Summit. BICCs are typically cross-functional teams that develop frameworks of metrics, goals and best practices that can then be shared with business units and departments throughout the organization. Here's what people are saying.