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Dresner’s Point: Three Cheers for Business Intelligence Troublemakers!

By April 1, 2014Article

Sparks usually fly in my #BIWisdom Friday tweetchats when we discuss what makes business intelligence initiatives and technology succeed or fail. Coming from different perspectives (users, vendors, consultants and other analysts), the tribe tweets with a laser focus on what they’ve seen in the BI trenches that turned out to be home runs or bungled efforts. In a recent discussion we tweeted about BI dos and don’ts. 

A few of their gems:

  • Don’t view business intelligence technology as a silver bullet.
  • Do view BI as needing to be dynamic and changing to succeed in the long run.
  • Don’t choose (more) technologies before identifying problems to solve.
  • Do understand what skills the organization needs to develop, acquire or hire before finalizing the budget.
  • Don’t neglect connecting BI facts to actions; otherwise, you’ll just have a pretty dashboard. 

Most memorable that Friday was this tweet: Do engage with business users that are often considered troublemakers. 

That advice launched a bunch of tweeted opinions:

  • It’s often IT that thinks that the business users are troublemakers.
  • Troublemakers are disruptive, but often they have creative ideas.
  • Troublemakers are change agents, which makes them a threat to the status quo.
  • Win a troublemaker over, and you’ll have a BI evangelist more powerful than any individual stakeholder.
  • Troublemakers are disruptive and their ideas may seem crazy indeed. But without them there would be no innovation. 

Bottom line: Whether they mutter, protest loudly or argue fiercely, troublemakers shake things up. The ones that protest the loudest usually have more invested in a particular tool or decision methodology. Interestingly, they usually possess a lot of organizational knowledge. In my last book (“Profiles in Performance: Business Intelligence Journeys and the Roadmap for Change”), I refer to troublemakers as “organizational activists.” And they’re not all business users; some of them reside in IT. 

The fact is troublemakers are change agents, and that makes them nuggets of gold. Never forget: People are a company’s most important asset. Three cheers for BI’s troublemakers! 

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.




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