I Fight For the Users!

Do you fight for your users?

Part two in a series of business intelligence insights from Tron: Legacy, now available on Blu Ray and DVD.

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?

END OF LINE.

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

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Author: Dallas Marks

I am a business intelligence architect, author, and trainer. I help organizations harness the power of analytics, primarily with SAP BusinessObjects products. An active blogger, SAP Mentor and co-author of the SAP Press book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, I prefer piano keyboards over computer keyboards when not blogging or tweeting about business intelligence.

3 thoughts on “I Fight For the Users!”

  1. Hi Dallas,

    I like it! It sounds like a great title for a soaring anthem – like “YOU Are The Champions.”

    To expand on one of your points: yes, business intelligence is optional. But remember where it came from. BI originated as a response to a user need: to make sense of data. I would argue that BI represents the beginning of the end for IT, because it has had to “sing for its supper” in contrast to the utility-driven traditional IT model in most organizations. With the advent of cloud computing all of IT will be under increasing pressure to demonstrate value beyond the mere movement of bytes through the company’s data pipes.

Leave a Reply