Thursday, February 18, 2010

Big Fat Truth Behind Business Intelligence!

This was a revelation!

Can you guess the adoption of BI solutions among Non-IT users such as Sales and Marketing roles for their day-to-day informational needs during their operations?

Your Answer - 50%?


Here is what Forrester analyst Boris Evelson's has to say:

"I recently talked to a few dozen non-IT professionals (specifically in front office roles, such as sales and marketing) across multiple industries, regions and company sizes. Guess how many of them fully or partially relied on IT for their day to day operational and strategic information needs? BIG FAT ZERO!!! This finding was a huge surprise to me – yes, I did expect to find something like less then 50% reliance on IT, but I surely did not expect to find 0%.

It is truly amazing that after 30 or so years of BI software, services and solutions vendors and internal IT organizations making a strong push and a case for BI, they are still not even making a dent in the front offices"

This finding may not be music to the ears of BI Professionals. But, this looks like the brutal truth behind the history of BI solutions.

So, What are the reasons? Of course, the Forrester blog post talks about BI on SaaS as one of the options that could drive adoption.

But I would like to draw my observations on multiple dimensions:

1. The 'Velocity' in which IT could turn around BI solutions to Business. Traditionally, IT is perceived as slow especially in implementing new BI solutions because of significant lead times in Business understanding, Ensuring Data Integrity, etc. You might have heard of Agile Application
Development. Ever heard of proven case studies in Agile BI or Agile Dimensional Modeling?. The solution lies in radical changes in the way the BI solutions are constructed - not just the IT service provider, but the technology/product vendor and the process organizations.

2. Every business has now hooked onto 'High-Velocity' working environment. By High-Velocity, I mean, the decision making cannot depend on past data or metrics sheerly because of the reason that the data/metrics must have become irrelevant with respect to time. So, Most of the decisions are driven purely by intuition rather than metrics. What could the solution? - Applying 'right-velocity' principles...and not just rushing decision making across the board.

3. BI helps only when somebody 'wants' to optimize something, and not 'have to' optimize. This is a cultural change and its very hard to achieve. The solution lies in radical transformation in the organization structure, incentives/rewards and day-to-day operational business processes.

4. Last but not the least, Data Quality. Siloed application architecture will not lead to actionable Intelligence. Without proper Data Stewardship in place within the organization, it would just be a Garbage-In-Garbage-Out.