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How IT has changed business intelligence

One of the biggest problems in dealing with business intelligence is that different departments within a business require different analytics. There was a time, back when hard disks were almost two meters across and came in stacks, that business intelligence was a matter of what you see is what you get. Not any more, IT has changed everything.
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With the advent of the Internet and cloud processing, it is now possible to supply different departments with custom made BI.  The number of tools available for analyzing that intelligence have also multiplied. Different teams can now generate their own "personalized" reports on an ongoing basis. Information generation and analysis are no longer in the hands of one team of specialists.

Different units now want to use data in more specialized ways and expect data to be presented in ways they can easily use. And they'll generate their own reports if they can't get what they want. This trend toward individualization is accelerated by the proliferation of self-serve analytics tools available.

This creates a problem with regard to curating data. While different departments need different data and different ways of processing it, there comes a point where individualized demand and self-service can present a number of problems. The last thing anyone wants is an every department for itself attitude. That can make information sharing, both vertically and laterally, very difficult. The key lies in satisfying the various stakeholders while still maintaining a centralized system. This can best be achieved by understanding how different departments use data, who they transfer information to and why.

And so it is necessary to understand the purposes and goals of the different teams involved and how those relate to the purposes and goals of the organization as a whole. Different departments will view the same data differently and extract different meaning from it. However, the information generated by the various departments should coordinate into a big picture whole that directly relates to daily business actions and management goals. As long as everyone agrees on an overall definition of success, there is no reason why different departments cannot use data in unique ways.

This involves coordination, discussion and collaboration as well as each department having a clear understanding of what the other departments need and why. If this can be accomplished, then centralized data management will not only be possible, it will be easy.

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