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The future of Business Intelligence is in education

By SiliconIndia   |   Thursday, 21 July 2011, 14:53 Hrs
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A 'first of its kind' survey conducted on seventy-nine BI professionals by beye NETWORK and St Joseph's university in Philadelphia lead to the establishment of a very important fact.
This conclusion roots from the enthralling fact that a quarter of BI professionals who were questioned believed their BI capabilities to be 'inadequate'.
The reason for this was linked to a 'lack of expertise', emphasizing the need for more education.
Richard Herschel, chair of the decisions & systems science department at St. Joseph's University who worked with the beye NETWORK on the survey, stresses on the importance of understanding how companies use BI tools before investigating the impact it has on the organization.
The results imply that BI is used in planning, market analytics and reading and predicting market trends majorly.

Strategic BI Applications:
* Strategic planning - 60.6%
* Product/market analytics - 63.4%
* Market trends and intelligence - 53.5%
* Supply chain analytics - 32.4%
* Other -11.3%
* None or don't know-12.7%

Another important fact the team unearthed is that BI success is dependant on the talent.
The 'human element' cannot be ruled out in spite of the sophisticated BI softwares available today. The human element still remains a critical factor in determining the success rate of BI.
Better exposure and understanding of BI by the 'decision makers' goes a long way in ensuring better performance.
Good business analytics and technical skills is what the decision maker must ideally possess.
The number of talented people needed is increasing by the year, with fifty seven percent of BI professionals expecting to recruit new BI talent the following year.

The survey said 66 percent of the respondents felt the users need additional training.
BI usage is continually on the rise and with it raises the need for additional training.
The survey also reveals the fact that the BI tools are not used by the analytics team alone.
33 percent of companies were found to have BI tools being used by members outside of the analytics team. And this is inevitable in the days to come. Experts suggest that the BI education must therefore be extended to more employees.
BI in curriculum
BI being a relatively new concept has not been incorporated in any educational syllabi.
Therefore the only source of education for young minds starting a career here remains 'on the job' training.
Expressing his concern on this issue Richard says it is "problematic because the BI field is relatively new and most students entering universities or pursuing graduate degrees are not even aware of BI as a potential field of employment"
This leads us to the next point.
* The urgent need to create academic programs
With 84 percent of the respondents predicting demand for the BI tools to be increasing over the next year, 57 percent expecting recruitment for BI talent to increase and 66 percent believing continuous education in BI to be mandatory, we need to go no further then this to realize that the future of BI is indeed in education.
With very few schools offering academic programs for BI the responsibility to educate more users also comes down to the vendors.
Herschel calls for development of a professional association "to educate the general workforce and students about what the BI field is and the professional opportunities it affords."
He predicts that there is a lot of fresh talent out there willing to get educated and opt for a career in BI. He presents the following fact to substantiate his claim.
"At my university, we offer both undergraduate and graduate programs in BI. This year, 210 freshmen applicants indicated an interest in majoring in business intelligence. That's up from only 2 the prior year, when our major was called 'Decision & System Sciences'." All we did was change the name of our major to 'BI' (which it truly is) and distribute a brochure to potential students explaining business intelligence and the opportunities that a BI career affords."
In the end a quick look on these facts tells us the story.
*To what extent does management in your organization employ business intelligence as the basis for their decisions? The responses were:
* Rarely, if at all - 7.1%
* Just once in a while - 22.9%
* About half of the time - 32.9%
* Most of the time - 27.1%
* All of the time -10.0%
It is no secret that better education would improve these figures by a fairly good margin.
In conclusion we would like to reinforce the fact already established by the beye NETWORK and St Joseph's university that more education is absolutely mandatory if we wish to see BI to be reaching more hands.

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