Chief information officers must ensure that business intelligence (BI) programmes are treated as a "cultural transformation of the business, instead of an IT project", analyst house Gartner has said.
Leading organisations are using key parts of BI - such as decision modelling and support - to ensure all workers, managers and executives can make the right decisions in a given business situation, it said.
“Traditionally, BI has been used for performance reporting from historical data, and as a planning and forecasting tool for a relatively small number of people in an organisation that relies on historical data to plan ahead,” said Gartner analyst Patrick Meehan.
He said modelling future scenarios permits "an examination of new business models, new market opportunities and new products, and creates a culture of opportunity".
Workers can not only see the future, but often create it, said Meehan.
Gartner said using information to provide intelligent insight to improve business performance is a major challenge, but highlighted three initiatives that use BI to create "intelligent businesses":
-Focus BI efforts on delivering the right information to the right people. Apply a business process orientation to BI that connects horizontally across functional areas and outwardly to partners, customers and partners. To keep strategy execution on track, BI must address all staff and management levels in the organisation.
-Change the mindset from more information to answering the right questions. Champion the value of "decision impact". A relentless focus on a very limited set of burning business questions will guide users toward BI-enabled decisions that have maximum impact on business strategies and goals.
-Create project teams based on information needs. Create teams based not just on who owns the data, but also on departmental interest in the information that will be generated. Breaking down silos of data ownership will send information flows up and down management chains as well as across functions. This will create decisions with "higher impact". The business decisions with the biggest impact never exist in isolation, said Gartner.
According to global IT trade association CompTIA, business intelligence skills are currently in high demand in the UK. A recent CompTIA survey among 350 UK companies showed that 75 percent required BI skills.
More information on BI strategies is available in the “From Business Intelligence to Intelligent Business" Gartner report.
The Gartner Business Intelligence Summit 2011 takes place in London on 31 January-1 February.