BI: IT becoming shop keepers for business users

One thing everyone is discussing is the changing nature of the IT/Business manager relationship with modern BI solutions. Many folks have talked about “enabling” the end users or used other similar terms.

Late last year, QlikTech and Informatica presented a three part webinar on the state of BI. I don’t remember if it was Donald Farmer of QlikView or David Lyle of Informatica who said the phrase that stuck with me, but it was evocative: IT is changing from gate keeper to shop keeper.

The goal of IT in today’s BI world is to stop being perceived as a barrier to business information and turn to being someone who quickly provides what the customer needs. I’d even suggest the shop is a grocery store. The business user will check the tools IT provides, applets, reports, basic dashboards and similar components, then have the ability to combine them, tweaking as necessary, to create a meal appropriate enough for the specific appetite.

What I like about the analogy is that it doesn’t denigrate the importance of IT. Business users aren’t doing a run around, they’re being provided core tools by an IT organization that’s doing a lot behind the scenes, just as the grocer is very busy to ensure the products are on the shelf and the store functions properly. It’s only that it’s a time sink for both IT and the user if the wrong is preparing the meal, the user knows better what she wants so why spend so much time trying to translate for IT. Both sides have a lot of work that needs their skills, finding the right level of interaction is a boon to both.

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