Get C-Level Execs on Board with BI

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To Gartner's rather lengthy list of what companies are doing wrong when it comes to business intelligence implementations, add another bit of strategic mismanagement: not enlisting the support of an appropriate C-level executive.


According to the results of a Gartner survey detailed in a recent B Eye Network article, just 10 percent of respondents say their BI initiatives are supported by C-level execs with a direct link to the business. At 40 percent of companies, a lower-level business executive sponsors BI initiatives, while IT execs do it at 25 percent of companies. Unbelievably, 25 percent of companies lack any executive sponsor.


The problem with either IT or mid-level business manager sponsorship is that the focus tends to be tactical rather than strategic. With no sponsor, the problem is pretty obvious.


In a recent IT Business Edge interview, Transformation+Innovation President Nathaniel Palmer says C-level sponsorship is critical. "I've never seen an organization that had a real propensity for change. At some point or another, even if a process begins with momentum, you're going to run into resistance. Having top-level sponsorship is critical to overcome that," Palmer says.


Though he was referring to business process management, Palmer's advice applies just as well to BI initiatives -- or to just about any technology implementation, for that matter.


Another recommendation from Gartner is to establish a business intelligence competency center. It lists 10 best practices for doing so in a recent TCMnet.com article. Among them, you guessed it, is selecting a C-level sponsor. It also advises choosing members from different departments across the company, using incentives rather than punishments to encourage participation, and working with other competency centers within the company.