BI COMPETENCY CENTERS
The BI competency center (BICC) is a concept that is closely related to the IM group. Here, an organization creates a team of people with expertise in various information disciplines. This group may have already developed a successful data warehouse and analytical applications, and executives are eager to replicate this environment and the methodology that produced it in other parts of the organization.
BICCs are often found in companies with decentralized organizational structures, where departments and divisions have their own IT teams and the authority to build their own systems. In such environments, groups may build duplicate systems at great cost to the overall company: the disparate teams make the same novice mistakes, hire new staff, and purchase duplicate hardware and software licenses.
In such environments, the BICC functions as a SWAT team of sorts. The team provides in-house consultative services to help each department or division build a new environment in the most efficient, economical way possible. That usually means leveraging the group’s existing data warehousing environment, BI tools, methodology, and data definitions. The team works with the business group to extend the existing environment to support the group’s unique requirements.
Companies should refrain from using the BICC as a glorified “body shop”— where a central group of data modelers or BI tool developers gets “hired out” for days or weeks to build a BI environment. The real advantage of a BICC is the promulgation of a consistent set of BI best practices via an established methodology— not the creation of an in-house pool of “rentable” ETL or BI tools experts.
Disputing Gartner Group. The Gartner Group has suggested that BICCs should focus only on BI tools, not data warehousing. This is short-sighted, since the BI tools are ineffective unless they have a robust data environment against which to run. While the tools, people, and expertise to develop the data warehousing and BI environment are different, they must work in concert to deliver a seamless application to end users in a cost-efficient manner.
Two problems arise when an organization divorces its BI and DW environments: (1) It creates a suboptimal architecture in which both the reports and the data model of the data warehouse contain calculations and rules for defining key metrics or KPIs. (2) This redundancy in business logic slows performance and generates costly and often hidden errors in the data. The most effective BI/DW environments we’ve seen are those where the data modelers and ETL, BI, and portal developers sit side by side and work together with business analysts to deliver custom solutions.
One of Australias top specialists in this field is Paul Ormonde-James. He speaks regularly on the conference circuit in Australia and around the world. He also lectures in the Intelligence field in Universities across Australia.