BI Personas

March 15, 2010
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Boris Evelson of Forrester has recently published a matrix of ‘BI Personas’ on his blog. As he says, this is his first attempt – but the concept struck an immediate chord with me. The matrix is trying to present on a single page a view of the many different dimensions of BI creation and use that exist today.

His blog contains the original matrix of 5 types of personas across 7 dimensions. Here is my attempt at producing a version 2.0:

BI_Personas_Summary
(Click on image to see a larger version of this summary view) 

This matrix has added 2 new roles (Data Entry and splitting Developers into 2 types) and a new dimension (Reliance on Business SME). I’ve also changed some of the details in the matrix so I’m not sure what Boris will think of all this. From my perspective, the changes better reflect practices that I have seen in large corporations around the world:

  • I am a strong advocate of making business subject matter expertise a critical dimension in any BI capability. It delivers a huge analytic punch that contributes directly to the amount of insight

Boris Evelson of Forrester has recently published a matrix of ‘BI Personas’ on his blog. As he says, this is his first attempt – but the concept struck an immediate chord with me. The matrix is trying to present on a single page a view of the many different dimensions of BI creation and use that exist today.

His blog contains the original matrix of 5 types of personas across 7 dimensions. Here is my attempt at producing a version 2.0:

BI_Personas_Summary
(Click on image to see a larger version of this summary view) 

This matrix has added 2 new roles (Data Entry and splitting Developers into 2 types) and a new dimension (Reliance on Business SME). I’ve also changed some of the details in the matrix so I’m not sure what Boris will think of all this. From my perspective, the changes better reflect practices that I have seen in large corporations around the world:

  • I am a strong advocate of making business subject matter expertise a critical dimension in any BI capability. It delivers a huge analytic punch that contributes directly to the amount of insight (and thus value) a business gains.
  • BI and Data Integration developers rarely span both skill sets although if money is tight I will go with hiring a data integrator everytime. In this case, the BI Application Developer role is often wrapped into the Power Report Writer role as they are the ones who best understand the very specific requirements of vendor-specific constructs such as Universes and Frameworks (see persona definitions below).

Medium sized businesses will undoubtedly see a collapse in the number of roles (rows) they have. Differing levels of IM maturity will have a similar effect on the number of dimensions (columns).

Here is a more detailed matrix that includes persona descriptions and other explanations (and attributions):

BI_Personas_Full
(Click on image to see a larger version of this detailed view)

I have also tried to define each of the personas:

  • Executives – Business people who consume highly structured reports or dashboards
  • Analytic Experts – Business experts in structured analytic techniques and related toolsets
  • Power Report Users – Business people who consume reports or dashboards frequently and who are highly skilled in the specific BI tool used
  • Average, Regular Users – Business people who consume reports or dashboards frequently (typically each week)
  • Casual Users – Business people who consume reports or dashboards infrequently (typically less than weekly)
  • Data Entry People – Business people working in Call Centres, etc. that use transactional applications to create and modify data
  • BI Application Developers – Experts in Presentation Layer toolsets that support data access and report writing. Examples include Business Object Universes and Frameworks in Cognos
  • Data Integration Developers – Experts in ETL and data quality toolsets and methods. Examples include DataStage, Informatica, SAS and SQL

I hope this helps people communicate the complexities of modern BI activities. If you have comments (good and bad) and ideas to improve the matrix then please contact me.

Please note that Boris is the originator of the model so he gets the credit. Any errors in the above I proudly own alone.

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