Should BI Teams Reside on the IT or the Business Side?

Should BI teams reside on the IT or the business side?

Taking our inspiration for a post from a discussion on the Business Intelligence & Analytics Group on LinkedIn, we thought about whether Business Intelligence should be controlled primarily by the IT department or people from business functions.

Divided opinions

First of all, it's important to remember that the answer to this question depends on the type of BI provided. For example, in house specialists are vital for traditional BI software, which require code to be written for each query as well as servers to be maintained and software to be integrated. SaaS BI is delivered over the internet so there is no software to install, no servers to maintain and no integration to be done. It is intuitive to use and does not require a single line of code. We can't speak directly for other software vendors, but our software Bime is designed to empower professionals outside of the IT department, with a view to freeing up IT demand so that IT departments can focus solely on their strategic IT role.

Other voices thought it depended on how BI is defined in the organization:

"If the largely accepted definition, that BI = Analysis + DW infrastructure, is held in the organization, then the Analysis side should reside within the business, and the DW team should be within IT. Some people prefer to use the term BI to describe just the Analysis part, if that is the case, then it should be on the business side."

Others felt slightly different, in that a lot rides on the technical abilities of the BI team itself, as well as how well integrated the IT and the BI teams are.

Some came up with "both and neither" arguments, stating that BI should exist on it's own accord and should simply liaise with business and IT functions across the organization.

Several offered up their own personal experiences - "I've seen it working well both ways, and I've seen it struggling both ways. Too often, IT lacks the understanding of the business needs and the sense of urgency. On the flip side, too often the Business doesn't have any appreciation for structure, consistency and sound fundamentals. From my experience, the best combination happened to be when IT was an active partner alongside the Business team, and the solution was built mostly by IT professionals, with close participation from the Business."

A common theme

One common theme that seemed to emerge from the discussion was that it was important for the users to have a good understanding of the organization as a business, whether they were IT specialists or not. A lot of opinions felt a mix of the two was the best way to deploy BI, with IT functions taking care of the infrastructure part and business functions carrying out the analysis and reporting.

You can find the original discussion here and a similar discussion for comparison purposes here. (You need to be a member of both groups to view the discussions).