BICC Skills Gaps: As Critical as Process, Decision-Making, or Technology Issues

Organizations invest significant resources in their BI Competency Centers (BICCs) to help best support and ensure the success of their BI investments. Nearly 55 percent of organizations report dedicating at least 10 individuals to their BICCs, with 20 percent staffing their BICC with more than 50 people. These investments represent massive resource and cost allocations that drive payback on BI. They can make or break the ability to achieve a positive return on BI investments.

The ability of a BICC to show positive impact depends highly on whether staff have the right skills and whether the right activities receive those skills. A clear correlation exists between the mix of skills and activities present in a BICC and its degree of success with BI initiatives. Too many organizations lack the modern skillsets required for digital-grade intelligence, data-driven decision making, and other skills critical to being a Hyper-Decisive® enterprise. Skills present in a BICC significantly influence the ability of an organization to achieve such goals.

Data leaders should view setting proper BICC staffing levels and identifying and closing BICC skills gaps as priorities at least on par with closing process gaps, resolving data-quality issues, and building and maintaining the right analytical models. Any mismatch between BICC staffing and skills and the requirements of BI initiatives makes desired business outcomes difficult if not impossible to achieve. By identifying where skills are lacking and time is spent on non-value-added activities (relative to the business goals for BI initiatives), organizations can then plan and implement how to optimize their BICCs to have more substantial positive business impact.

Addressing skills gaps and optimizing BICC activities may require many different actions. Some BICCs are understaffed and simply need more people to increase impact. Those with sufficient staff levels (or even potentially overstaffed) may need to develop new skills or better allocate resources to value-added activities. Many BICCs will need a combination of these actions—changes in staffing levels, development of new or additional skills, and redirection of resources toward different activities.

Many BICCs straightaway need to better align with business leaders and business outcomes. This requirement means data leaders must rebalance BICC skillsets by de-emphasizing deeper technical skills (such as database management and application development) in favor of skills better aligned to how modern BI initiatives operate best (such as consultative work with business leaders and project teams, fostering data literacy, mentoring BI users, data storytelling, and data governance).

Data leaders should prioritize, with a sense of urgency, making the necessary changes in BICC skills and resources. Just as they can quickly identify skills gaps among BI users, data leaders and their teams similarly need to focus inward toward skills gaps in a BICC. In particular, they should prioritize where the BICC touches high-value, high-risk, and mission-critical initiatives, and where better-informed, data-driven decision making will provide the most immediate benefit to the business.

Two key shifts are critical in BICC skills and staffing. By embedding skills closer to relevant business processes and functions, rather than in monolithic and IT-centric structures, BICC resources can align best to business goals and outcomes (see the Research Insight “Realign the BICC to Drive Strategic Business Value”). And by shifting BICC skillsets toward capabilities that enable users to derive more value from data and BI (such as data literacy, mentorship, data storytelling, and data governance) leadership teams and rank-and-file users alike will more readily view the BICC as a function that adds business value and contributes significantly to BI and business success.

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