Weaving BI into the corporate fabric

At these organizations, a top-down commitment helps business intelligence efforts spread throughout the enterprise.

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If 1-800-Flowers.com CIO Steve Bozzo had his druthers, even the online retailer's mailroom clerks would have access to business intelligence.

"There's valuable information at every level of the organization," he says. Clearly, Bozzo sees the power of pervasive BI.

"Business intelligence needs to be part of the business fabric: not an afterthought layered on top of a business initiative, but part and parcel of the overall process from the get-go," Bozzo says. "And that's what it is for us -- it's a part of our culture."

But pervasive BI doesn't mean everybody in the company has sophisticated analytics tools to use as they wish, cautions Dan Vesset, an analyst at IDC. Rather, he says, pervasive BI is about ensuring that everybody -- front-line employees, middle managers and executives -- can make decisions using the right information at the right time.

Achieving BI ubiquity takes considerable and continuous time and effort -- 10 years and counting in the case of 1-800-Flowers.com. "Pervasive business intelligence is something that we have and continue to work very hard at -- and we think we're really successful at it," Bozzo says.

Over time, the Carle Place, N.Y.-based company has learned the imperative of having a BI/analytics practice within IT as well having corresponding liaison groups in each business unit. "These liaisons are experts in BI, but they major in business and minor in IT, whereas the analytics group in IT majors in IT and minors in the business," Bozzo says. "The groups complement each other perfectly, and this has made a huge difference in the way we roll out BI."

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