Rationalise and integrate for better value
There appears to be a sense of frustration among business intelligence software suppliers about how their products and services are perceived by the business community. They believe their products have the capability to provide enterprise-wide information delivery services, but the reality is that most deployments have a departmental focus and are driven by a particular business problem or information service requirement.
The result is that suppliers provide only the limited range of information management and delivery services that are requested, and most user organisations fail to obtain the best value for money from their business intelligence investments.
In fact, users often end up duplicating spending and support efforts by deploying different business intelligence products each time a new information management requirement is identified.
As a result, one of the technology issues that must be addressed if business intelligence systems are to become more than just an information tool for power-users and technology-savvy business analysts is that of systems rationalisation.
The average enterprise probably has 12 or more different business intelligence tools deployed across its key service departments and operating subsidiaries. Each business intelligence system will have been brought in to address a specific requirement, but individually they do not support the way forward or provide the capability to deliver the single version of corporate information that must be available to support the mainstream use of business intelligence-based information services.
In order to move on and replace a series of business intelligence tools with one or more integrated systems built around a single information architecture, business and technology decision makers have some hard choices to make.
Technology suppliers must work harder on their systems justification. This would involve putting together a convincing case that proves their platform can be used to deliver a range of enterprise-level data capture and information delivery capabilities.
The business intelligence platform is the key technology vehicle for the delivery of enterprise business intelligence services. As such, it needs to be capable of delivering a range of products, tools, and services that support information access and management requirements extending well beyond the needs of individual power-users or departments.
Capabilities should support most of the following services: data quality, extract transform and load, data storage, data management, meta data management, forecasting, analysis services, query, analytics, enterprise reporting, key performance indicator management, and portal and dashboard delivery services.
For the business and technology decision makers in user organisations, the difficult issues will revolve around which business intelligence systems should be removed and convincing each group of users that they can get along without their own personally selected comfort blankets.
The added value to the business will come from rationalising the number of systems that need to be supported, cutting back on the disparate range of data repositories that need to be maintained, a general easing of the systems support overheads and, it is to be hoped, integrated and consistent enterprise information.
Andy Kellett is a senior research analyst at Butler Group