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Steve Dine

If you're looking for a change from analysts, thought leaders and industry gurus, you've come to the right place. Don't get me wrong, many of these aforementioned are my colleagues and friends that provide highly intelligent insight into our industry. However, there is nothing like a view from the trenches. I often find that there is what I like to call the "conference hangover." It is the headache that is incurred after trying to implement the "best" practices preached to your boss at a recent conference. It is the gap between how business intelligence (BI) projects, programs, architectures and toolsets should be in an ideal world versus the realities on the ground. It's that space between relational and dimensional or ETL and ELT. This blog is dedicated to sharing experiences, insights and ideas from inside BI projects and programs of what works, what doesn't and what could be done better. I welcome your feedback of what you observe and experience as well as topics that you would like to see covered. If you have a specific question, please email me at sdine@datasourceconsulting.com.

About the author >

Steve Dine is President and founder of Datasource Consulting, LLC. He has more than 12 years of hands-on experience delivering and managing successful, highly scalable and maintainable data integration and business intelligence (BI) solutions. Steve is a faculty member at The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) and a judge for the Annual TDWI Best Practices Awards. He is the former director of global data warehousing for a major durable medical equipment manufacturer and former BI practice director for an established Denver based consulting company. Steve earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Vermont and a MBA from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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Each year I form my opinion based on the observations from five sources; our customers, industry conferences, articles, social media and BI software vendors.  2010 proved to be an interesting year on many fronts.  My observations from 2010 are as follows:

1)  Larger numbers of existing BI programs are maturing beyond managed reports, ad-hoc queries, dashboards and OLAP than in years past.  Companies are increasingly looking to squeeze more value out of their BI programs via advanced visualization, predictive analytics, spatial analysis, operational BI and collaboration.  This is driving the rise of analytic databases (ADB's) and new analytic applications and features.

2)  The number of failed BI projects continues to remain high.  While the industry has learned, and documented, the reasons of why projects fail, it hasn't done much to stem the tide of failed projects.  From my perspective, and I'm sure most would concur, the overarching reason is because implementing successful BI projects is hard.  It requires a balance of strong business involvement, thorough data analysis, scalable system & data architectures, comprehensive program and data governance, high quality data, established standards & processes, excellent communication & project management and, experience.  I don't necessarily see things changing in 2011 unless companies:

  • institute and enforce Enterprise data management practices
  • ensure high levels of business involvement for BI projects
  • institute measurable, value driven, metrics for each BI project
  • realize that offshoring BI projects, except for simple staging ETL and simple BI reports, doesn't work well for BI.

3)  Much of the old is new again.  Master Data Management (MDM), dashboarding and predictive analytics are not new concepts, but they did see a strong reemergence in 2010.  One of the challenges with implementing integrated dashboards and predictive analytics was that they were often missing from the enterprise BI software suites.  It seems that the major BI vendors finally started listening to their customers are new capabilities started rolling out.  MDM was simply repackaged to include more than just the data warehouse and found traction in organizations struggling with defining their master data and keeping it consistent across their disparate systems.

4)  BI wants to be agile. We've always recognized the high cost and long lead times for implementing BI, but it seems that the customer has finally said 'enough' and BI teams are listening.  They are looking for new ways to implement BI and finding that many Agile practices, such as smaller, focused iterations, daily scrum meetings, prototyping and integrated testing help speed up the velocity of BI and augment the communication between the business and IT. In 2011, I expect to see BI practitioners better understand what Agile practices work with BI and which one's don't translate as well.

5)  There was increasing interest in BI in the Cloud, but fewer takers than expected.  Infrastructure as a service is still a bit too technical for many BI programs to implement and concerns over data security remain high.  There are also concerns over performance, both hardware and network.  BI software as a service products are continuing to mature but  the biggest hindrance for user adoption in 2010 appeared to be poor ETL capabilities and non-extensible identity & access management.    

I'm always interested in you reaction and views.  Please feel free to post your comments and take on 2010.  

Posted January 10, 2011 11:31 AM
Permalink | 2 Comments |


Steve - I applaud your spine in calling the BI-in-the-Cloud thing as it really is, rather than confusing the current situation with the possibility/aspiration. ALL things cloud, including BI, are intoxicatingly exciting in their potential. And, that's the problem. All the visionaries WANT the potential, but the current reality does not line up with the potential -- neither from the supplier side nor from the demand side. Cloud BI is not yet ... easy, seamless, flexible, integrated, consistent, scalable, portable, accessible, platform-agnostic, datamodel-agnostic, etc. Anyone who claims otherwise is selling something...and, not exactly what they say they are.

Thanks Scott. As you know, I am a big proponent of the cloud, but I'm disappointed that it didn't gain more traction in 2010. While there are a few notable exceptions, it seems that the majority of the major BI vendors have leveraged it for marketing purposes rather than delivering the capabilities required for BI. I still have hope that things will change in 2011.

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