While watching Tron: Legacy in IMAX 3-D, I was hoping for a burst of inspiration for a geeky tie-in to business intelligence, but couldn’t find it. When I saw the movie a second time (in mundane 2-D), inspiration struck. I was moved by one of the key lines of dialog in the movie (the same line was originally spoken in the original 1982 Tron):
“I Fight for the Users!”
I fight for the users. Hell, yeah! I FIGHT for the users. I really like the sound of that. It goes to the heart of what I do as a business intelligence professional. In a recent signal vs. noise post, 37signals innovator David Heinemeier Hansson heralds the end of the IT department. And sadly, he makes a strong case against the forced monopoly of the IT department.
The mantra of IT seems to be “no, you can’t have it your way”. And to be fair to corporate IT departments everywhere, it makes sense to run corporate IT like a utility. We expect water and electricity to flow without interruption whenever we ask for it. And likewise for applications like e-mail, payroll, order entry, and B2C web sites.
But the mantra of business intelligence must be a resounding “yes!” As in, “yes, we’d love to supply the data to streamline your monthly business process”. Or “yes, we’d love to help you measure the KPIs that measure the success of the business.” The metaphor for business intelligence is less like a utility (although up-time and performance are still important), but more like your favorite coffee shop or restaurant. Let’s be honest – do you really want some cranky network administrator to be your barista at Starbucks? The experience of the service performed is just as important (or perhaps more important) than the actual service.
The truth is, business intelligence, for all its potential, is optional to the organization. If we supply poor business intelligence, we will not cause the company to grind to a halt. Our organizations will still make widgets and sell them to customers. But we have a privilege to help our organizations perform more effectively, harnessing information for effective decision making. Using business intelligence, we can eliminate much of the drudgery of collecting information and instead help our users to spend more time analyzing that information. The business will always run. But we’re uniquely equipped to help it run better. Want to do better? Wayne Eckerson’s recently revised Performance Dashboards book has an excellent chapter on “How to Align Business and IT” (see my book review).
Do you talk regularly with your users? Or just talk about them?
Do you go to lunch with your users?
Can you name the top three business priorities of your users?
Do you fight for your users?
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UPDATE 04/21/2012: Was glad to see Tron inspired somebody else. Read “Why Tron is a true story … or how the iPad is transforming the enterprise” by Eric Berridge via ComputerWorld.
- Purchase Tron: Legacy on Blu Ray or DVD from Amazon.com
- Purchase Tron: The Original Classic on Blu Ray or DVD from Amazon.com
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