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The Agile Incubator Blog

Breaking the Wall Between Business and IT

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

When the Great Communicator made that proclamation, a wall fell. Within months, the world became a different place.

In many organizations, a more resilient wall stands strong. Leveling the divide between business and IT is no mean feat. In fact, technology created and defined that divide. In somewhat of a twist of fate, technology has surprisingly become the enabler, the communicator. Technology available now can help drive collaboration in the business intelligence arena in ways we couldn’t imagine five years ago.

Data profiling is one area where tools get business and IT teams talking. My last blog discussed conducting joint data quality review sessions using data profiling tools as an accelerator. That approach enables a rich conversation between business and IT – a groupthink that creates a high degree of collaboration and trust between the parties that produce and consume data.

Similar collaboration tools are available for monitoring ongoing data quality, maintaining master data, building business glossaries, validating business rules, and other tasks. The tools leverage maturing technology and clever design to enable and enrich the tasks of stewards. These stewardship activities have been difficult to define and harder to implement – until now.

The clarion call here is not about simply deploying new technology – we’ve all been down that road before. Neither do our goals include making every business user a tool jockey. We’ve missed the point if we haven’t grasped the incredible attention to detail required to smooth over the business-IT divide. Tools used with patience and care gracefully handle these kinds of details. Our goal is to obscure the line between technology and business, while eliciting the responsibilities of stewardship.

Using such tools sets the organization into a virtuous cycle of continuous data quality improvement. The business users work with intuitive interfaces that mask the underlying complexities of data, master data and metadata. The tools simplify presentation of information, evaluation of options, and acceptance of inputs. IT gets the feedback needed from the business to improve data knowledge and quality. Players on both sides of the wall gain a deeper appreciation for the need to communicate effectively, while managing data as a corporate asset.

We can turn our organizations into entirely different places by leveraging these capabilities to systematically chip away the divide between business and IT.

This wall, too, is destined to fall.