Kimberly-Clark's CIO on Business Intelligence


IT leaders are busy carving out their 2010 strategies and plans, and one thing is for sure: business intelligence will be a prominent priority across the board.

I say that because, well, a huge number of CIOs say so. Just look at IBM's recent Global CIO study, which polled more than 2,500 IT leaders. When asked about their top tech priority, a resounding majority pointed to BI. And a similar number cited BI in the Society for Information Management's latest CIO survey.

But BI has been around for years. Why the sudden and major spike?

Kimberly-Clark CIO and CIO Insight Advisory Board member Ramon Baez has some good thinking on why BI is so important today, and how he's looking to change the conversation about it at his company. He spoke with me this week about the topic.

"I think what's happened is that people have gotten smarter," he says. "The folks in the business want more insight. They want more information."

In the past, IT teams deployed BI tools but didn't do a thorough job with master data, he continues. Now, CIOs and their deputies know they have to have the right plumbing.

The whole idea, he believes, is to push decision-making down to the workers on the front lines--not just the top executives.

"When I was at my previous job at Fisher Scientific, people were talking about how senior leaders would make better decisions. No! It's about how the other people can make decisions. The stronger companies that will do better going forward are the ones that really understand the info and decision-making--not only at the top, but pushing it down to lower levels."

A few other things have helped bring BI to the forefront. First, the top vendors in the space have been gobbled up by tech behemoths like IBM and Oracle, which have integrated the products into their larger offerings.

At the same time, like everything else, technology matures with age. And as that's happened, IT pros have become smarter about how they want to use the tools.

And for Baez, that means worrying less about the techology itself, but more about the processes and needs.

"Let's not talk about technology. Everyone wants to jump to the 'solution.' Let's focus on how we do business, how we make money, and how we grow the business profitably. And then let's figure out what the enablers are. Some of those enablers may not be IT. It may be a process or some methodology."

Previously from Ramon Baez: Leadership Counts in Tough Economy


2 Comments for "Kimberly-Clark's CIO on Business Intelligence"

  • Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist February 18, 2010 12:06 pm

    Great post. I just have a difficult time with concocting new characterizations (such as Business Intelligence) to overcome a long-standing problem in organizations today: Focusing on technology vs. focusing on business process. I am so sick of technology being viewed as the end and not the means. Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist http://community.ca.com/blogs/theitgovernanceevangelist/

  • Mike St. Angelo November 17, 2009 10:49 am

    I agree with Baez. Databases hold good intelligence but the type of intelligence is as important as the intelligence itself and most companies still have to realize that it�™s the processes and the needs that make the difference. It is not enough to know that something is wrong. Knowing why something is wrong is usually more important and that boils down to gathering behavioral performance intelligence and using it to analyze critical processes, standards, initiatives, functions and procedures.

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