Creating Synergies between Information Wheels
The BACC must therefore establish and maintain these information wheels, but at the same time, we should be clear that the processes illustrated in the information wheel are not necessarily performed in just one place in the organization; they can easily be performed in several places. The person responsible for CRM activities wants to generate customer information to monitor activities. So does the person responsible for sales in connection with the planning and monitoring of sales activities. The same thing is true in connection with HR, production, logistics, procurement, and others. In this context, people talk about the occurrence of information islands or the silo syndrome, which occurs when the different business units create and maintain their BA systems without any coordination. Not surprisingly, this results in different terminologies, technology strategies, and procedures across the organization. This leads to the creation of data redundancy and knowledge-sharing barriers, resulting in a considerable amount of uncoordinated tactical BA projects, each delivering limited insight and effect on the bottom line.
One of the most important tasks of a BACC is therefore to coordinate all these information wheels in order to create synergy on the data side via a correct combining of data. In addition, synergies must be created across analysts (knowledge sharing among analysts) as well as on the IT side. As an example, it has been estimated that software costs could be reduced by approximately 25 percent if solutions were standardized via fewer platforms, which would also give the organization a better negotiating position as a major customer with software vendors. A similar number is mentioned in relation to costs in terms of external consultants and employees, since a reduced number of technologies means that the organization does not need to have expertise in as many technologies and can therefore minimize the number of integration projects. The number can, of course, be formulated positively;we get proportionally more performance for the money we pay consultants and staff in our IT department.
As illustrated in Exhibit 7.2, a BACC must assume responsibility for the establishment of an ongoing dialogue between the business and IT to ensure that the chosen information architecture and the chosen technologies support the information strategy. Information architecture describes the ways in which we move data and information around the organization, while the technologies refers to the software and hardware solutions that will subsequently perform the task. This terminology corresponds perfectly with the definition of BA used in this book;otherwise the right people won't be getting the right information at the right time, as part of an automated process. As illustrated in Exhibit 7.2, we first set up our information architecture. Only then can we formulate the requirements to individual technological solutions—both individually and combined. We would like to stress that a BACC does not design information architecture or technology strategies. This is the system owners' job. A BACC enters into a dialogue with the system owners to ensure that the chosen information architecture and the chosen systems support the organization's information strategy. If this does not happen, we find ourselves again in the situation where the scope of the BA function is determined by technological solutions rather than by the information needs of the business.
Exhibit 7.2 Interrelationships between Information Strategy, Information Architecture, and Information Technology