Editor’s note: Increasingly organizations are establishing an internal Business Intelligence Competency Center, which leads to greater success with BI endeavors and BI tech investments. Dresner Advisory Services recently published its second annual Business Intelligence Competency Center Market Study on BICCs, and we spoke with Howard Dresner, founder and chief researcher, about some of the findings in the study.
Exactly what is a Business Intelligence Competency Center? Is it something akin to a Center of Excellence?
Howard Dresner: A BICC is a group within an organization charged with defining, delivering, documenting and promoting best-practice BI solutions.
By how much greater percentage and in what ways does a BICC effect greater success in business intelligence?
Howard Dresner: In our 2015 study, 49 percent of the survey respondents reported many successful projects and one-third reported pockets of success with business partners.
“Better decision making” is the primary objective of business intelligence initiatives. Organizations with BICCs in place reported a higher opinion of their organization’s “state of data.” Consequently, more than 90 percent of the BICC respondents reported their organizations are executing at the highest levels of competency in taking action on insight; they have “closed-loop” processes for sharing BI insights and taking ad hoc informal action.
This also supports the BICCs’ higher inclination toward targeted (project/KPI-oriented) areas of revenue growth and competitive advantage compared to the other participants in our study.
And, finally, BICCs are more likely to drive business intelligence down and through the organization.
These are impressive differences between the organizations with BICCs compared to those without. Do BICCs generally bring that much value in a short period of time? How long have these organizations had a BICC in place?
Howard Dresner: Their longevity ranges from more than a decade to younger than three years. The majority (30 percent) of the respondents stated their BICC is three to five years old; and another 29 percent have had a BICC in place for six or more years.
As with all of our market studies, we analyze the data from various perspectives: organization size, geographic region, industry and vertical function. BICCs in North American and EMEA organizations have the greatest longevity (three years or longer), and the majority of those in Asia Pacific and Latin America are three years old or younger.
Typically your market studies also provide detailed analysis of user organizations’ priorities in BI technical features and functionalities. Do BICCs generally share the same priorities and required needs as the other study respondents?
Howard Dresner: In the top seven priorities we measured, the BICC respondents have a higher affinity than the other respondents, especially data warehousing. As to “hot button” functionalities for BICCs, end-user data blending ranks high among four other functionalities they consider priorities.
What are the trends you found regarding use of BICCs according to the size of the organization?
Howard Dresner: Unlike many aspects of BI usage and performance, where smaller organizations lead the pack, business intelligence competency centers tend to exist more often in larger organizations than smaller. For instance, 57 percent of our BICC respondents are in organizations of more than 1,000 employees.
Although larger organizations have more employees in their BICCs than smaller ones, BICC staffing as a percentage of total headcount declines as organization size increases.
How do organizations staff their BICCs? What skills do these employees need?
Howard Dresner: Our 2015 study revealed business analysts are the most abundant resources within BICCs. The study also found a shift from the 2014 study, when project managers were the second-most common resource; today, they have fallen behind the number of database programmers, statisticians / data scientists and app developers. Database programmers and database administrators are most often found in large organizations of 10,000 or more employees; whereas organizations with fewer than 100 employees have above-average numbers of analysts and project managers (often including consultants).
When we slice and dice the study data according to the position the BICC reports to, we find that BICCs that report to the sales function are most likely to employ business analysts. Marketing and operations use more data scientists because of their focus on big data and social media. BICCs that report to a strategic planning function report having more database programmers.
How are they employing these skills? What are the primary activities in BICCs?
Howard Dresner: There is a broad range of well-understood roles attached to BICC activities, but the most frequent – and highest priority – activity reported by our study respondents is analytic model development. The report on our 2015 Business Intelligence Competency Center Market Study details the other front-line priorities and less-specialized activities.
Howard Dresner is president, founder and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services, LLC, an independent advisory firm. He is one of the foremost thought leaders in Business Intelligence and Performance Management, having coined the term “Business Intelligence” in 1989. He has published two books on the subject, The Performance Management Revolution — Business Results through Insight and Action, and Profiles in Performance — Business Intelligence Journeys and the Roadmap for Change. He hosts a weekly tweet chat (#BIWisdom) on Twitter each Friday. Prior to Dresner Advisory Services, Howard served as chief strategy officer at Hyperion Solutions and was a research fellow at Gartner, where he led its Business Intelligence research practice for 13 years.