Business intelligence systems are complex and dynamic organisms that require a lot of care, feeding, and proper upbringing in order for them to contribute value back into the organization. In fact, they are a lot like our children, who require constant nurturing to grow into the mature and contributing adults that we hope they will become. At birth, a BI system represents a vision of what it will someday become. This vision is a collection of the wishes and dreams of key stakeholders based on current issues and needs. Just like the visions and plans of young inexperienced parents, these issues and needs change over time, and so do stakeholder visions. As the system matures it must adapt to these changes in order mature into a relevant and valuable business intelligence solution.Historically BI practitioners have treated the development of these systems more like incubating an egg than raising a child. That is, the BI system is built inside a shell with limited visibility or guidance by the business stakeholders until it eventually hatches as the first production release. Imagine if we raised our children like we build BI systems. We would keep them in highly controlled and protected environments, away from others until they are mature and fully developed. Then we would release them into the world to see if they can function effectively. Clearly this is not a healthy way to raise a child, nor is it a healthy way to build a business intelligence solution or system.
Agile Business Intelligence treats BI system development like healthy child rearing. From its inception, the system is frequently exposed to stakeholders no matter how immature. Early versions of the system help stakeholders shape their visions and provide feedback about the system. Developers have the opportunity to respond to this feedback and continuously mature the system to align with the stakeholders’ vision. As children gradually mature, we give them greater freedom and responsibility; similarly as an Agile BI system gradually matures, we increase the number of users who can access the system and it gradually becomes a production system. Agile Business Intelligence is a highly iterative and evolutionary approach to building any business intelligence system. This is effective whether it is an enterprise data warehouse; a customer relationship management system; or advanced set of data mining models.