The Business Intelligence Guide
Its not news that the market for business intelligence applications
This has been back by reports from research analyst companies such
as Aberdeen Group and Gartner.
An Aberdeen Group survey survey reported BI reporting
and analytics as the#1 technology spend item for companies in 2007.
And of course, we cannot discount the logic behind enterprise
software vendors spending a fortune acquiring leading BI providers
IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP all demonstrated their belief of
- SAP acquired Business Objects
- Oracle bought Hyperion
- IBM purchased Cognos
- Microsoft made strategic BI acquisitions
A recent Gartner report identified the BI spending
spree as a "tumultuous" with a major shift in balance
of power, and market share, toward the "megavendors."
The big four now own two-thirds of the BI market, according to Gartner.
Whilst this may appear fortuitous for the vendors, it has launched
havoc in the buyer side of the market, with confusion over projected
product road maps and committment into BI capability development.
This is making BI very difficult for companies to evaluate options
- how does one really know who or where their vendor offering will
be supported in the future.
This complexity in a relatively young BI market is clouding the
already difficult quest for IT managers to figure out just what
business intelligence means to them and their company's needs.
If its not hard enough to cut through vendor marketing hype, buyers
now have to contend with market instability. That makes BI vendor
selection a much more complex, and difficult task.
BI tools span a wide spectrum of:
- Performance management applications
- Online analytical processing tools
- Querying and reporting
- Data mining
- Business analytics
- Decision support systems
- Data warehousing
All of these critical functionalities are typically grouped under
the business intelligence umbrella by vendors. However, the robustness
of the total solution often depends upon the integration of not
only the technology components, but also the licencing and support.
Acquired components can complicate an already highly administrative
BI Users Must Define Their Priorities
That pervasive uncertainty places the onus on business users and
IT departments to figure out exactly what types of information they
need to extract from their BI systems, say analysts.
"You basically have to figure out what items interest you,
and what's important to you," says Walter Lee, an analyst at
Burton Group. Therefore, companies must formulate a BI requirements
strategy, or methodology, as Lee terms it, that is based on the
analytic and reporting data that will best synch with their overall
business strategy. But that too can be difficult, Lee notes. "It
can be a convoluted and lengthy process."
Even when IT departments are able to hammer out the back-office
integration and data-sharing complexities (which are not trivial),
many companies still struggle to get business users to actually
use the BI applications.
A February 2008 Gartner report on self-service options for business
intelligence concluded that users find BI tools difficult to use
and consume. "Anecdotal evidence suggests no more than 20 percent
of users in most organizations use reporting, ad hoc query and online
analytical processing tools on a regular basis," writes Gartner's
Schlegel. He also notes that most IT departments are overwhelmed
with BI requests to meet business requirements and often have difficulty
building BI applications due to a shortage in developers' skill
"Lack of both end-user and developer skills is frequently cited
as a major barrier when deploying BI applications," Schlegel
writes. "In both cases, there is a need to make analytical
applications easier to build and consume, to overcome this skills
Burton Group's Anderson doesn't take exception to the 20 percent
usability rate, though he does note that that number is common in
many application deployments outside of BI. "If you have a
complex problem and user interface, no matter how well written it
is there's only a certain amount of people who are going to use
that tool," he says.
But a sizeable challenge with BI tools right now is ensuring that
the data and analytics that are ultimately presented to users are
meaningful and actionable by those users.
"Just because you see [a BI trend] doesn't mean you're going
to be able to do anything about it," Anderson says. Companies
have to figure out "how do you transform that data into actionable
items. In U.S. businesses, we sometimes falter on that."
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Clear About BI With This Comprehensive Guide To BI Strategy, Program &
BI Solution Index | Market
| Gartner Eval. |
Comparisons | BI
On Demand | BusinessObjects | Cognos
8 BI | IBM | Information
Builders | MS PerformancePoint
| MS Sharepoint | Microstrategy
| Oracle BI | SAP
BI | SAS |
Teradata | BI Virtual Appliances
| BI Vendor Updates | 2008