When it comes to business intelligence, the modern IT organization faces a dilemma: the demand from users to self-serve their analytics needs versus upper management’s goal to ensure information is consistent with organizational goals and government regulations. Balancing both the goal of empowerment through self-serviceability, and governance poses a challenge.
If the scale is heavily tipped towards governance, organizations can lose agility and in turn miss out on opportunities that arise in a rapidly changing business landscape. However, governance is necessary in many organizations to ensure information integrity.
On the other hand, too much empowerment can lead to chaos and legal issues, which poses a threat to the bottom line. At the same time, empowerment enables users to find critical information that may benefit the organization.
Ultimately, the goal of implementing business intelligence is to strike a balance between both governance and empowerment. Business intelligence grants the potential for a strong competitive advantage, but proper implementation of any technology is critical to its success within the enterprise.
In earlier days, BI vendors and data warehouse purists attempted to manage data as a “single version of truth.” Many people now recognize that as a pure fairytale. Data can manifest and reside anywhere and enterprise data warehouses cannot contain all organizational information.
However, there is still a strong need for enterprises to govern all their data to achieve the utmost accuracy and consistency of reporting. Allowing business users to link multiple data sources into a report is seen, at the enterprise level, as running the risk of providing reports that may be inaccurate, inconsistent, and misleading. The challenge is how do enterprises govern these diverse sets of data?
The answer to this issue is for organizations to use corporate definitions of information, ensure templated reporting is managed, and metadata is enforced throughout the enterprise. Report templates allow users to easily compare information across business units and act as measures to ensure consistency. Metadata is critical to the goal of governance. This is because metadata is the essence of how data can be transformed to information thus making the case that the hallmark of governance is consistent usage of metadata.
Empowerment is a critical enabler because the primary benefit of BI is to provide the ability for users to explore data, understand information and use it to facilitate decisions that benefit the organization.
Today, empowerment is often boxed into the concept of “self-service” BI, which has become nebulous and means something different to different people. Part of the confusion is the fact that people use information in different ways.
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