Go for Early Wins with Business Intelligence Competency Center

Ann All
Slide Show

Real Questions for BI Vendors

Click through to see the questions Ann discovered that can make a tangible difference in your diligence.


We reporters sometimes get a little full of ourselves, particularly when we cover the same topic or topics over a long period of time. I sometimes find myself snarkily thinking, "Well, d'uh" when a source is giving me what I consider a long-winded and obvious answer to a question. I'm certainly not proud of this, and it's days like those that I think, "I wonder if it's too late to get that MBA?" (Or "go into the Peace Corps" on my more idealistic days.)


What I really like is to be surprised, which happens when someone gives me a refreshing and unexpected answer. That happened right near the end of my interview in which I solicited advice on establishing a business intelligence competency center from three smart guys at consulting and development company Technolab Corp.: Desmond Mullarkey, Paulo Dominguez and John Brkopac.


They offered what I thought was a great definition for a competency center, with Mullarkey telling me:

At the end of the day, it should end up being a service center for business users. ... It should be designed as a place users can go and find out about a BI application. It should walk a user through the process, with clear expectations along the way, of what happens from the time a need is expressed and what happens thereafter until an application is produced.

Based on that definition, I figured it would be a lengthy process to get a BI competency center up and running. That was the answer I expected when I asked about it. Not so. Mullarkey told me his company wants its customers to get their centers going within six months, meaning they should be producing applications and designing procedures and processes within that timeframe. To achieve that goal, he said companies must "think big, but start realistically."


While producing results early will help bring users on board with any technology initiative, it's especially important for BI, which has suffered from unmet expectations. Said Mullarkey:

The process design is normally a three- to four-month period. Some of your quick hits can happen within that period. Normally you should expect to see significant results-in both processes and applications-within the six-month period. If you don't do this, you end up trying to convince people by talking about the benefits rather than living the benefits. We need to get them to experiencing the benefits as quickly as possible.

I encourage you to read the full interview, which is packed with good advice.

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