Business Intelligence Competency Centers

By Gloria Miller, Dagmar Bräutigam and Stefanie Gerlach.
Published by Wiley.
Price: £19.99.
ISBN: 0470044470

Over the past few years, business intelligence technology has been gaining broad acceptance across the wider enterprise as a key reporting and analysis resource. Yet its adoption – usually department- by-department, business unit-by-business unit – has presented executives with a unique problem: in order to achieve the maximum return on what is often a substantial investment, where should the necessary business intelligence (BI) skills and knowledge – for understanding any departments data needs, building complex reports, undertaking deep analysis – be housed within the organisation?

The answer say the authors of Business Intelligence Competency Centers – all senior consultants at BI software vendor SAS – is in establishing a dedicated BI hub, staffed with a cross-functional team that has a permanent, formal position within the organisation. By defining the roles and responsibilities of staff, and identifying the processes for supporting and promoting BI across the enterprise, a competency centre can help organisations sustain a competitive market advantage through BI. The end result, argue the authors, will be a “vibrant organisation that drives revenues, manages costs and realises a consistent level of profitability.”

After a short discourse on the role of BI within the organisation and the functions of a BICC, the book then dives into the planning and implementation stages. Where the authors excel is in describing, in detail, the staff that are needed to fill and maintain the functional areas of a competency centre. There is plenty of discussion on the requirement for internal specialists, but the book also provides a key to the other functions that could either support the activities of the BICC or be outsourced to an external provider.

Where it is a little thin is in its examination of real-life examples. The four profiles of BI competency centres within major companies lack any depth. And although it is augmented by downloadable user commentary from a related SAS website, that does little to drive home the importance of a BICC.

Such a shortcoming means the authors cannot draw on any real evidence to support their claim that BICC adoption leads to “a consistent level of profitability”. However, for those investigating how to set up a BICC, this is a highly practical guide.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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