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Reflections from TDWI's BI Executive Summit

More than 150 BI Directors and BI Sponsors from small, medium, and large companies plus a dozen or so sponsors attended TDWI’s BI Executive Summit last week, a record turnout.

Here are a few of the things I learned:

- Veteran BI directors are worried about the pace of change at the departmental level. More specifically, they are worried about how to support the business’ desire for new tools and data stores without undermining the data warehousing architecture and single version of truth they have worked so hard to deliver.(See "Zen BI: The  Wisdom of Letting  Go.")

- Jill Dyche explained that corporate BI teams can either be Data Providers or Solutions Providers. That this is an option is a new concept for me. However, after some thought, I believe that unless BI teams help deliver solutions, the data they provision will be underutilized. Unless the BI team helps solve business problems by delivering business solutions, it can never be viewed as a strategic partner.

- Most BI teams have project backlogs and don’t have a great way to get in front of them. Self-service BI can help eliminate a lot of the onesy and twosey requests for custom reports. BI Porfolios and roadmaps can help prioritize deliverables but executives always override their own priorities. Many veteran BI managers are looking to push more development back into the departments as a way to accelerate projects.

- There is a lot of interest in predictive analytics, dashboards, and the cloud. Those were the top three vote getters to the question, “Which technologies will have the most impact on your BI program in three years?”

- Most of the case studies at the Summit described real-time data delivery environments, often coupled with analytics. GE Rails applied statistical models to real-time data to help customer service agents figure out the optimal repair facility to send railroad cars to get fixed; Linkshare captures and displays Web activity and commissions to external customers (publishers and advertisers), and Seattle Teachers’ Credit Union delivers real-time recommendations to customer service agents.

- There was a lot of interest in how to launch an analytics practice and Aldo Mancini provided some great tips from his experiences at Discover Financial Services. To get SAS analysts to start using the data warehouse as a way to accelerate model development, he had them help design the subject areas and variables that should go into it. Then, he taught them how to use SQL so they could transform data into their desired format.

We’re already gearing up for our next Summit which will be held August 16-18 in San Diego. Hope to see you there!

Posted by Wayne Eckerson on February 28, 2010


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