The Use of BI in the Cloud is a Game Changer

by   |   August 7, 2014 5:30 am   |   0 Comments

Alakh Verma, left, and Rodney Heisterberg, authors of "Creating Business Agility: How Convergence of Cloud, Social, Mobile, Video, and Big Data Enables Competitive Advantage"

Alakh Verma, left, and Rodney Heisterberg, authors of “Creating Business Agility: How Convergence of Cloud, Social, Mobile, Video, and Big Data Enables Competitive Advantage”

The use of business intelligence (BI) in the cloud is what is creating an alliance between chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIOs). This will be the first of several alliances between the CIO and business unit leaders. The data most readily available enables companies to gain insight into consumer behavior, identify sales opportunities, and make data-driven decisions without hefty investments in IT infrastructure.

The CMO-CIO alliance is a prime opportunity for CIOs to better collaborate with an organization’s other business leaders. In fact, IT leaders with the right cloud know-how can help drive revenue and reduce costs—achievements that are likely to impress other business leaders and create opportunities for additional alliances.

But as more and more companies migrate from on-premises to cloud BI, challenges arise. Here are the five most important issues that IT leaders need to carefully consider when evaluating cloud BI:

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1. Deliver trusted data.

Blending disparate sources of data within a cloud BI solution is key to deriving actionable insights about your business. Unfortunately, inaccurate and untrustworthy data can significantly skew results. Whether it’s customer contact details in a CRM system or inventory reports generated by an ERP tool, IT leaders must both properly test and validate algorithms and always ask the right questions of the data to get the right answers.

2. Consider a hybrid model.

There’s no such thing as a cookie-cutter approach to BI. While a growing number of companies prefer cloud-based BI solutions to on-premises ones, in-house hardware is still important. For instance, companies extracting valuable consumer intelligence or conducting traditional financial trending analyses using large volumes of highly sensitive data are likely to prefer the control and security provided by an on-premises BI system. The secret is having the next-generation infrastructure in place to support multiple approaches to BI.

3. Keep your data secure.

Security concerns continue to arise around cloud-based and BI solutions. The good news is companies can take matters into their own hands. First, organizations must figure out what data can be put in the cloud safely and securely. Next, it’s necessary to ensure that a cloud BI provider offers network segmentation through firewalls, up-to-date security patches, password protection, and security management services so that the same levels of data protection can be achieved as with an on-premises setup.

4. Build the right infrastructure.

Managing a cloud strategy is no easy task. That’s why it’s critical that IT leaders have the necessary infrastructure capabilities to support cloud BI. This requires IT leaders to design and communicate with the CMO an integration plan so that corporate data as well as big data from various sources can be seamlessly migrated to the new cloud system. This effort must be conducted working hand in hand with the CMO and other business line leaders to ensure that a next-generation infrastructure supports not only cloud BI but also business goals.

5. Facilitate change management.

It’s common for many cloud BI tools to be largely underused. That’s a shame given the time and money invested in cloud BI. Fortunately, greater adoption is possible by offering the CMOs and other employees extensive training in BI tools. Proper change management as well as educating employees on how they stand to benefit from a BI system’s capabilities also requires plenty of up-front planning. After all, making the most of technologies like cloud BI can help companies save money that can be reinvested in growing the business or in strategic projects.

Effects on the CIO

While the use of the cloud and personal devices such as smartphones, notebooks, and other products on the market is creating more effective and efficient personnel, it is handcuffing many IT departments. For every sales rep using his or her personal iPad to access enterprise e-mail or CRM, there are IT professionals behind the scenes having difficulties dealing with the intersection of personal devices and enterprise detailed information, and making sure that everything is complying with policy (O’Neill 2011).

Many cloud and consumerization of IT methods are hit-or-miss, rattled and shaken by protection issues and unclear detailed recommendations about how to administer them or provide the proper security, according to a frontline study of 750 IT professionals conducted by Point of View Analysis (Gibbs 2011).

But despite the benefits to personnel, the cloud and consumerization of IT are a thorn in the side of most IT departments, according to the research. Most (82 percent) surveyed say they are concerned about the use of individual devices for work requirements, with the biggest situation being potential program security breaches (62 percent), followed by possible loss of customer enterprise data (50 percent), potential theft of intellectual property from home (48 percent), and issues with compliance requirements (43 percent).

As with any change in a business, the cloud and consumerization of IT will become a priority, and big changes will occur within IT to aid in the use of personal devices at work. It’s a certainty that this will not be going away soon.


All in all, one will find that use of the cloud will grow and it is something that is going to make your life interesting, for want of a better word. It is not certain what the end-user side of the IT catalog of your upcoming services will look like. However, it is fairly certain that the baseline services will have to support nothing but wireless connectivity to diverse mobile devices utilizing a cost-effective strategy characterized by details all over the place driven by comprehensive security methods. And may the gods help you if you’re in a regulatory industry.

With that as the impact on the CIO, there’s only one answer on what to do: Change; take the alteration. Be sensible. You know that you are already attached to the reins of the enterprise. The items exercising the future are on their way and coming directly at you. Not only will these items defy conventional procedures, but someone has jammed the velocity controls to “comprehensive on.”

A complete list of citations can be found in the book.

Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Wiley, from Creating Business Agility: How Convergence of Cloud, Social, Mobile, Video, and Big Data Enables Competitive Advantage by Rodney Heisterberg and Alakh Verma. Copyright (c) 2014 by Rodney Heisterberg and Alakh Verma. All rights reserved. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.

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