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The challenges of business intelligence: Gartner BI summit

Representatives from ING Direct, Mirus, NRMA Insurance and Toyota discussed the challenges of finding the right BI staff

Business intelligence (BI) investment will continue to be driven by IT in the future, but finding people with the right BI skills will be an ongoing challenge, according to a Gartner BI and Information Management Summit panel discussion.

Chaired by Gartner analyst, Ian Bertram, the panel included guest speakers from ING Direct, Mirus, NRMA Insurance and Toyota Australia.

Bertram asked the speakers how they went about recruiting the right BI staff.

NRMA Insurance information delivery and data management senior manager, Walt Hui, said that the company was finding it easier to attract people with good technical skills. "Our big challenge is finding someone with both business and technical skills," he said. "We develop the business skills by providing training for our staff."

Toyota Australia BI manager, Simon Dorrat, agreed and said it was a tough environment for both recruiting and retaining staff because the BI skill set is quite specific. "You need to provide an environment where they can enjoy the work and where it is recognised," he said.

Bertram then asked the panel if growth in BI spending by the business will outpace BI spending under the direct control of IT.

Dorrat said this depended on what Gartner classified BI spending as. "If it's formal investment in systems, technology and deployment then I would say no," he said. "IT will continue to lead BI spending."

Mirus Australia director, James Price, said its BI offering was built by the company and its IT department to sell to the aged care services market. "Software and the tools that our customers use need to be easy to understand so they don't require an IT department to configure them," he said.

The panel then discussed the prediction of business analytics driving 70 per cent of investment in the modernisation of infrastructure in 2012.

According to Dorrat, the bulk of the investment is going to be running the business and the systems that support day-to-day operations. "The analytics side of infrastructure is getting easier because of appliances," Dorrat said. "The prices of those solutions that solve [analytics] problems will come down. In the past, we would have to spend a lot of time and money to get performance."

Finally, Bertram asked the panel if the role of the CIO will change and be replaced by more technology centric roles while governance will sit somewhere else in the business.

ING Direct Australia head of BI and analytics, Greg Nichelsen, said this had already happened within the financial service provider. "The information management council that we run is a combination between analytics and risk; it's not an IT driven function at all," he said.

Dorrat disagreed and said the best practice is to have governance and ownership of information enabled by IT but also sponsored at a management level.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU


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