Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is BI something you are born with?

Even as the economic conditions in the USA and in the world remain uncertain, Business Intelligence is experiencing high demand. Every day, I get at least a couple of new request for technical Business Intelligence consultants. While our company is quite large and of global nature, we still have difficulty finding the right talent for our engagements. When I talk to my friends outside of the field, they all tell me that I am sure joking, with the unemployment in the USA approaching 10% I should be getting plenty of candidates to choose from. The reality is that there are indeed plenty of candidates in the market, but very few of them are qualified or are willing to do what is required to make the project successful.
So, if people are not qualified, why not just train them? In my experience while it is relatively easy for someone to learn a BI tool, it takes a special mindset to understand BI. I have personally taught entry level BI classes and based on observation, only about 30% of the class really understood what we were trying to achieve (over and above creating a nice report or dashboard). I can assure that I am not a bad teacher, I have been part of the faculty of prestigious universities in Mexico and my teaching scores (provided by the students at the end of the semester are not bad). So, if it not the teacher, what makes BI especially difficult for people to grasp?
While there is no definitive answer, my opinion is that the technical complexity lies with the logical abstraction required to model the business events in a way that these can be stored in a relational database. Further, although the inner workings of BI are indeed technically complex, it is even more difficult to find business leaders who truly can leverage BI at its maximum.
Despite the fact that it is a human quality to be able to consume information to make decisions, if you find (or have) a business leader who understands BI and as such can get the organization to the next level through the right use of information hire or promote this person immediately, you will not regret it.