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Analytics Teams: Own The Business Problem, Not An Infrastructure

To succeed in the future, Analytics teams have to pragmatically support business access to data, even if it's not stored in corporate systems.

Analytics teams have devoted the last few decades building large and elaborate infrastructures that attempt to gather and harmonize essential business data.

These systems are critically important to business. Yet a Forrester study found that 32% of business people felt their enterprise BI applications were too cumbersome to use, 31% have to wait days or weeks for an average BI request, and 45% said the systems didn't contain the data they needed.

Data availability has exploded. The study found that on average, 45% of the data business people use now resides outside of the enterprise BI environments. The result is that approximately 63% of business decision-makers are using an equal amount or more of homegrown versus enterprise BI applications. And an astonishingly minuscule 2% of business decision-makers reported using solely enterprise BI applications.

The impact of this is clear: to succeed in the future, analytics teams have to own the business problem, not an infrastructure. They have to be focused on helping business people access information -- wherever it is stored -- and make better decisions, not just concentrate on building the perfect data warehouse or data lake.

When a business person has a problem, the answer can't be "sorry, that data is not in the data warehouse -- you're on your own / come back in six months / you'll have to pay us to include it".

Whether the solution involves manual input of data into Excel, obtaining third-party data feeds, or spinning up a cloud-based Hadoop cluster, the analytics team should be the central point of contact for all discussions.

This may require a reorganization and some extra resources. But there are some big benefits. Today, many IT organizations believe they have strong governance rules in place, but this is constantly being undermined by business users dumping data to Excel. Business teams around the organization are already spending lots of time manually gathering and combining data. By centralizing these processes and being more pragmatic, organizations can save money, increase effective governance, improve the relationship between IT and business, and align data use more effectively with the real business needs of the organization.

[This post first appeared on the Business Analytics and Digital Business Blog]

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