Who are the BI Personas?

The world is changing. The traditional lines of demarcation between IT and business, developers and end users, producers and consumers of info no longer work. But every time I attempted to create a matrix of BI personas in the new world, I ended up with so many dimensions (business vs. IT, consumers vs producers, strategic vs tactical vs operational decisions, departmental vs. line of business vs enterprise cross functional roles, running canned reports vs. ad-hoc queries, and many others, i ended up with something quite unreadable. But there still has to be something that on the one hand shows the realities of the new BI world, yet something that fits onto a single PPT. Here's my first attempt at it (click on the small image to see the full one).


In this diagram I attempt to show

  • Who's consuming vs. producing the information, how heavy or light that task is. What's interesting is that all our research shows is that most of the BI personas now are both consumers and producers of info.
  • Who's using what style of BI as in reports, queries, dashboards and OLAP
  • Who is using BI only as reports and dashboards embedded in enterprise apps (such as ERP, CRM, others), which usually means canned reports and prebuilt dashboards, vs BI as a standalone app
  • Who's using non traditional BI apps, such as the ones allow you to explore (vs just report and analyze) and allow you to perform that analysis without limitations of an underlying data model
  • Who's a producer and a consumer of advanced analytics
  • And finally show the level of reliance on IT by every group

As always, all comments, suggestions and criticism are very welcome! HD


Version 2.0

Hi Boris - great post and idea. Thanks.

I have tried to apply your matrix to my own world and have just put out a new version. It's here:


I'm already using it to communicate with several business communities where I am out to improve their BI capabilities. Hopefully I have not misrepresented your work (too much) as I bend it to serve my needs.

re: Who are the BI Personas?

You've definitely pointed out one of the key things that needs to be understood going forward.

I'd suggest that we also need to consider "unofficial" business intelligence activities.

Maybe one of your personas could be "Departmental Excel Junkie" or "Rebel MS Access DB developer"

Part of what is driving many of the changes is the acknowledgement that the widespread use of spreadsheets and "shadow bi" systems indicates that something is missing in the existing architecture and tool set. This isn't a new problem, but some new solutions are starting to emerge.

Looking forward to seeing where your table evolves to.

re: Who are the BI Personas?

Hi Boris, interesting post.

I like to use a similar kind of diagram in my analyses for each fact table or group of fact tables, in which I also put the required timeliness of info (realtime, daily, monthly). I find it very useful to get a quick overview over an information domain.

@James aren't your proposed personas instances of the power user, using non-traditional BI tools?

re: Who are the BI Personas?

Maurijn- Yes- could be- but in that case I'd think that the Average users and executives would get a check too. The depth and breadth of the spreadsheet in some organisations is amazing. Its not at all unusual to see quite senior people getting into to the data in some organisations. Of course it varies as with everything else.