BIaaS Sparks More IT Consulting Requests


As IT launched the initial pilot programs several months ago to test our new Business-Intelligence-as-a-Service offering under our recently unveiled IT-as-a-Service model, some couldn’t help but wonder what it would mean to the traditional Business Intelligence IT team.

BIaaS enables EMC’s business units to rent space and capabilities to conduct their own data analysis projects with full access to EMC’s previously highly-restricted corporate data bases.

Would giving business units the ability to do their own data analysis and reporting mean that our BI team that had always done such reporting in the past become obsolete? Would we become glorified system administrators, sitting idle as the business units went about their data analysis business without us?

If initial demand is any gauge, the answer is a resounding no. In fact, demand for IT’s Business Intelligence services is on the rise, with an interesting new twist. The services business units are seeking from us are more sophisticated and complex than in the past. The fact is, we are getting more requests for consulting and trouble-shooting than our team can handle. And that appears to be only the beginning.

There are two factors driving this new demand for BI consulting. First, business units that order BIaaS space via our ITaaS catalog and do initial reports to gain insight into particular areas tend to want help in taking their analysis to the next level. They want to know how to scale the analysis models they’ve create or are looking for advice on how to improve the way in which they use the data in question.

And second, business units that previously resorted to using their own infrastructure, such as unauthorized servers under desks, to overcome IT rationing of infrastructure and resources by storing their own data and doing freelance analysis are now coming out of the shadows thanks to BIaaS. They too are now beginning to seek IT expertise in shaping and analyzing data and solving problems.

Both situations are creating demand for a new level of skills from our BI team, as well as a more exciting role in helping the business leverage Big Data.

In the past, IT’s BI team members were often relegated to order takers and report developers. Business units would tell us what information they needed and we would assemble the data and build the requested reports. It was an end-to-end process where IT did all of the development work but much of it was mundane and was usually a layer or two removed from the strategy and how best to approach the analysis..

The new demand for our BI services are much more consultative, however, requiring team members to have more customer-facing and problem-solving skills. They may be called on to initially educate users on how to use BIaaS but are then consulted again to understand how best to use the platform after those users have done some initial analysis on their own. Business units might be asking for them to trouble-shoot a process or to help them scale a successful reporting prototype model from serving a handful of participants to accommodating hundreds of users across a business unit. Or they might be seeking advice on how to achieve a result that requires more complex data manipulation, modeling or statistical algorithms.

Our organization is currently adapting to these new demands. We’re currently coaching them in consulting and trouble-shooting skills. We’ll make sure that BI staff we hire in the future have these expanded skills as well.

BI also just added two data scientists to our ranks to help us with providing users with advanced analytics expertise and we plan to add more in the months ahead.

So, despite the naysayers predicting our BIaaS-inspired demise, the BI team is alive and well and ready to meet our customers’ expanded analytics needs. We are delighted that our users are finding new ways to use our consulting services and that those who used to hang back in the shadows hesitant to collaborate because they wanted to avoid scrutiny of unauthorized IT infrastructure are now free to seek our help. After all, the more we can all leverage Big Data effectively, and empower the analysts in the business, the better we are able to compete and innovate effectively.

About the Author: Dell Technologies