The BI Fade-Out That Just Isn’t Going to Happen

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Consider the plight of the typical Business Intelligence (BI) professional:

The job description sounds great; it usually runs something like this: “Using state-of-the-art tools and techniques, leveraging your creativity and understanding of business operations and data structures to combine data from disparate sources to generate reports, dashboards, and other deliverables to provide actionable business insights to key stakeholders. Other duties as assigned.”

It’s that last sentence that ends up being the downside. “Other duties” often means working nights and weekends tracking down bugs and data errors, taking the blame when the data doesn’t give the “right” answer, and being held accountable for meeting unrealistic timelines.

And now, to add insult to injury, we’re being told that BI as a tool and as a profession is on its way out, going the way of punch cards, typewriters, and elevator operators.

Our take? Fat chance.

BI Is More Vital Than Ever

The modern enterprise lives or dies by the quality of its data and its ability to extract meaningful insights from it. To this end, the BI professional brings a number of key skills to the table:

-Transforming data from different sources so information can be combined to show a consistent picture
-Cleansing data—and keeping it clean
-Identifying gaps and redundancies in data that degrade its quality
-Slicing, dicing, combining, and summarizing data to extract key business metrics
-Displaying data in the most meaningful, impactful, intuitive format

There’s been quite a bit of talk that BI as a key business tool is less useful than advertised because it considers only historical data; “real” business decisions must be made with up-to-the-minute information.

Well, guess what? Data is data is data, whether it’s streaming live or preserved in a database or data warehouse. Analyzing and presenting it in a meaningful way requires the exact same high-level skill set in either case.

And while it may be true that you can’t drive a car forward by looking in the rear-view mirror, it’s also really tough to plan a journey to a desired destination if you don’t know where you started. If you’re looking only at a snapshot in time (i.e., right now), you will never know if things are getting better or worse.

As more businesses realize what they can achieve with their data, the BI professional will continue to be an indispensable resource.

#BI_Rise: A Little Respect, Please

It’s time for BI professionals to make a stand to make sure their value to the enterprise is understood. BI analysts and developers shouldn’t suffer from unrealistic expectations and inadequate tools. That’s what BI_Rise is all about, getting BI professionals to realize how important they are to any business, that they should be treated accordingly, and that they should be able to use the latest in automated tools that help them do their jobs better, faster, more accurately, and with less manual grunt work.

Data-driven decision-making isn’t going away. Don’t let business leadership believe that they can pull it off without happy, energized, non-burned-out BI professionals.

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