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May 5, 2009

Transparency at Organizations - Linking Business Intelligence and Decision Making

Filed under: Data Integration — Tags: — Olga Belokurskaya @ 4:37 am

Kurt Schlegel, an analyst from Gartner, declared:

Despite huge investments in business intelligence (BI) software and platforms that have resulted in a more informed workforce, most companies still fail to link BI to “the last mile” of business decision making.

The connection between BI and decisions it affects influences greatly the transparency at organizations.  Moreover, the lack of such connection prevents BI from getting the full credit it deserves when it results in good decision making.

The BI lifecycle is made up of three stages:

  • organizing, cleansing and collecting data
  • delivering data, often in the form of reports
  • applying BI to decision making

This third stage is, probably the most important, according to Schlegel. Although most organizations have matured through the first and second stages, very few of them jumped to the third stage. However, most are ready to do this. Schlegel recommends organizations develop decision support systems in order to make the transition. It will allow them to use BI-related analysis and reports to experiment with more “what if” scenarios that track how a decision was made, with what data, and by whom.

Schlegel also called on the BI mega-vendors to invest more resources in developing decision support systems, though such technology is unlikely to become very profitable for them. But such environments could be really beneficial for decision makers, allowing them to remotely collaborate in discussions around assumptions, incorporate relevant BI analysis and other decision inputs, and explore and gain consensus around the pros and cons of alternative courses of action. Moreover, this “collaborative software” could also provide a record of how decisions were made – information that now is frequently lost once the process is complete. Such records would give organizations greater transparency into how decisions are made, so they would be able to identify trusted decision makers and reuse successful decision patterns.

One more Schlegel’s recommendation for companies is to begin a cultural transformation focused on developing decision optimization as a core competency.

Start with a corporate education effort around decision-making best practices, and provide opportunities for decision simulation to socialize the value of transparent decision making and create a common corporate vocabulary to drive a cultural shift.

March 12, 2009

Some Figures Concerning BI

Filed under: EAI — Tags: , , — Olga Belokurskaya @ 8:26 am

I’ve recently come accross some interesting figures.

According to Gartner, over 60% of organizations state they have a BI strategy, but despite the many years experience most organizations have with BI, they aren’t doing better in addressing the fundamental challenges of BI.

Gartner estimates that no more than 20% of business users actually use BI proactively. This means that BI is not being widely used to manage performance. And advises that IT must look for means to align BI initiatives with corporate and business objectives. Saying about BI strategy it underlines that it doesn’t mean just choosing which megavendors you will work with. You must keep in mind that the speed of technology change is increasing. There are lots of thechnologies concidered as trends, which have the potential to disrupt the BI marketspace significantly. They are Web 2.0, interactive visualization, in-memory analytics, SaaS, and BI integrated search.

All these topics were discussed at the recent Gartner Business Intelligence Summit 2009 during March 9-11, by the way.

April 3, 2008

Good News for BI Businesses

Filed under: Data Quality — Tags: — Alena Semeshko @ 4:30 am

Regardless of what I was saying inone of my recent posts about BI in the traditional understanding of it becoming outdated, the spendings on BI keep rising.

Spending on business intelligence software, designed to help executives make better decisions, is seen rising 11 percent to $5.8 billion this year despite a U.S. economic slowdown, research firm Gartner said.

Gartner says BI hold too high of a position with CIOs and will not be affected by the economic downturn as much as other technologies.

The research firm said business intelligence had beaten all other technologies in a survey it had carried out of priorities of 1,500 chief information officers worldwide.

Gartner said it expected business intelligence software sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and the Asia-Pacific region to outgrow those in North America this year, as they did last year.

BY 2012, the global business intelligence market should be worth $7.7 billion, Gartner said.

BI taking over the world, huh? That’s encouraging news for BI companies!

April 2, 2008

BI has No Future?

Filed under: Data Quality — Tags: — Alena Semeshko @ 12:27 am

Neil Raden quite reasonably criticizes a recent article here titled “Gartner: Emerging Technologies Will Help Drive Mainstream BI Adoption.”

After all, it’s true that BI software was initially designed for marketing and finance departments to gather data, analyze it, sometimes report it and build up new development strategies based on it. But all of this is already in place and happening… As for the prospect though, there’s still room to expand:

“I believe there is a huge opportunity for the BI vendors to expand the reach and value of their software, but not through visualization interfaces and more powerful analyst tools. That train left the station. It’s time for BI to take its place on the porch with the big dogs and tackle the real operational processes of organizations. Classic BI is not going away, it provides a valuable function, but not everyone needs it.”

March 24, 2008

Daylight Saving Time Changes Harm Business Intelligence and Data?

Filed under: Data Integration — Tags: , — Alena Semeshko @ 8:54 am
“Widespread confusion was created during the 1950s and 1960s when each U.S. locality could start and end Daylight Saving Time as it desired. One year, 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates were used in Iowa alone. For exactly five weeks each year, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were not on the same time as Washington D.C., Cleveland, or Baltimore–but Chicago was. And, on one Ohio to West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles! The situation led to millions of dollars in costs to several industries, especially those involving transportation and communications. Extra railroad timetables alone cost the today’s equivalent of over $12 million per year.” (From here.)

Yes, DST is a problem, and yes it’s gonna become only more so over the years. We live in a world totally different from the one our parents lived in. We live in an extraordinarily connected world, where the slightest time inconsistence may lead to irrecoverable errors and losses. That’s why speculations arise as to whether DST really is as important and ncessary of a thing, as is portrayed? Let’s see. With DST:

1. SaaS vendors have problems with updating time if they run applications on multiple servers. I.e., there’re problems with Google Calendar.

2. We face problems with synchronizing data and scheduling. The trouble lies in synchronizing and avoiding all the mismatches that might occur as a result of different countries switching to DST at different times and timezones changing “on the run”.

3. Time changes disrupt sleep patterns, cause harm to the health, and so on. According to health researches, DTS increase death rates, suicide commitments, heartaches, etc.

4. DST wastes more energy resources rather than saves any, according to various studies.

Clock shifts and DST rule changes have a direct economic cost, since they entail extra work to support remote meetings, computer applications and the like. For example, a 2007 North American rule change cost an estimated $500 million to $1 billion.

5. We miss meetings and appointments

6. Have problems interpreting and meeting deadlines
7. Struggle to tackle security-related issues and correlating log files

8. International business systems that function across multiple time zones face confusion

9. And so on and so forth.

Globalization made us as interdependent as ever and our world as web-connected as never (and you can only wonder how much closer it will get) and if the problems over DST might have been insignificant a decade or so back, they are far from being so today. Today DST makes businesses stumble, business intelligence fail and lead to the loss of our most precious resources - time and data… The question is why are things like that still allowed to happen?

March 4, 2008

Why Data Warehousing? Why Business Intelligence?

Filed under: Data Warehousing — Tags: , — Alena Semeshko @ 8:33 am

In the world of Business Intelligence there’s no place for people who manage by gut. Auch that hurts, huh? But that’s true. People who use their intuition or gut feeling to make major decisions in business usually lose to those using BI in support of management decisions. It’s like with cars: your serviceman knows exactly what that noise under your hood means and what has to be repaired or replaced in your car, while you might only suspect that something’s wrong with the engine or breaks or gearbox and if you were to repair your car, you’d be more likely to break something else than repair what’s broken. Employing BI strategies and techniques, like, for instance, data warehousing, provides the security and assurance you need to keep your business up and be sure of your decisions.

When success depends on how quickly a company responds to rapidly changing market conditions, BI is where you turn for help. It fast-forwards the decision-making processes and provides you with the insight necessary to make the right decisions faster.

With the modern technologies of data integration, warehousing and analysis, you get a single complete view of your organization’s past, present and potential future with the major problematic areas already figured out for you. All that is left is for this perspective to be put into action.

*get going*

March 3, 2008

Less = simple?

Filed under: Data Integration, EAI — Tags: , , — Alena Semeshko @ 5:28 am

Scott Davis has recently blogged on the idea that reduction does not necessarily mean simplification. As an example, her used his son’s physics class, where kids were more comfi with a loger formula than with its shorter equivalent. It was easier for kids to comprehend and intuitively solve the longer formula as “each equation component was visible and was easy to relate to each of the respective forces at play”. Scott goes on discussing this issue by taking it into today’s business world.

“We try to boil down lots of unique moving parts of the Strategy Gameboard into a single pithy Vision Statement — and then, we’re surprised when employees feel no connection with it. Or, we try to homogenize data and reporting from the variety of functional areas around the business into an non-descript blob of a common-denominator centralized Business Intelligence program — and then, we’re surprised when departmental analysts keep using their own stuff.”

You know…when I was in high school I always prefered shorter and simpler equations. It was much easier for me to just memorize a few things and forget about the lengthy process of figuring what goes where each time you have to solve something in Physics or Chemistry class. To me it was way easier to make a mistake when solving extended equations.

Now, I understand, not everyone’s like me and some people are more comfi with taking their time, getting to the root of everything. Maybe. Although in the words of business, particularly the constantly on-the-move business today, that’s not at all the best approach. What use are employees that take twice longer than others to complete a task? They might be as professional and skilled as others, but… let’s face it, we live in a rapidly progressing competitive world. To succeed in this world, or at least to secure your place, you’ve got to work and think fast.

Same goes for software. If earlier software programs were designed to address specific needs and run independently, today the market for packaged enterprise applications is exploding, creating an emmediate need for integrating multiple independently developed and heterogeneous applications. Simplification, integration, reduction of aplications running.

Same goes for data. Enterprises today tend to replace their passive reports and charts with active business platform based on adaptive IT architectures. For better or worse, business intelligence tools enhance business communication across enterprises, coordinate resources, and enable companies to interact more quickly in our ever-changing world.

This “reduction”, which is more of progression and interconnection actually, is not seen as negative. Quite the contrary - it’s critical to today’s businesses

The use of business intelligence software has now assumed a high profile in many organisations, says the research, with 66% of senior managers seeing it as “very critical” or “critical” to their decision making.

This positive approach is reflected in the fact that 67% of organisations plan to extend the scope of their data warehousing activities to new functional areas, while 64% will be further exploiting their existing information.

Well, the numbers speak for themselves =).