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Claudia Imhoff

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About the author >

A thought leader, visionary, and practitioner, Claudia Imhoff, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on analytics, business intelligence, and the architectures to support these initiatives. Dr. Imhoff has co-authored five books on these subjects and writes articles (totaling more than 150) for technical and business magazines.

She is also the Founder of the Boulder BI Brain Trust, a consortium of independent analysts and consultants (www.BBBT.us). You can follow them on Twitter at #BBBT

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More articles and resources are available in Claudia's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

And it is about time! For years, I and others have been touting the need for business intelligence to move from simple data gathering and reporting to having an active role in business process improvement. Well, we are finally starting to see this progression as a survey of 300 business-technology executives shows.

The survey was performed by InformationWeek Research and reported in an Optimize Magazine article. Certainly some of the old standards are still be chosen as key business objectives for a BI environment -- for example, increased revenues, faster up cycle times, and reports of current sales -- but these actually got the lowest number of respondents. The objectives that got the highest number of votes were monitoring performance metrics, improving business planning, and managing internal performance.

Colin White, my good friend and colleague, has long stated that BI has been way too data-focused and must become more process-centric. He will be pleased to see that this is exactly what is occurring. This will drive the enterprise to achieve what Keith Giles, an analyst at Forrester Research says is a "single version of the business truth". I like that modification to the popular "single version of the truth" saw.

Another interesting question in the survey dealt with the barriers that enterprises still have in adopting BI tools enterprise-wide. I would have guessed that data quality would have been the number one choice. I would have been wrong. It was the number three choice. What were one and two? Training (or a lack of technical expertise among the BI users) was the runaway winner with about 60% of the respondents and technological integration/compatibility coming in second place with a 50% respondent rate. Data quality and no clear ROI were in the low 40's percentage-wise.

Sounds like we need to spend a great deal more time working with the business communities to ensure that they are comfortable with all the fancy new BI tools they just received. We in the IT area tend to ignore this most crucial aspect of any BI implementation -- to our detriment.

Or perhaps we need to focus on building better dashboards or other forms of interfaces to mask the technological wizardry behind the curtains from our business communities...

The very active M & A or consolidation activity we have witnessed recently will be a great help in terms of the technological incompatibility -- or you could use technologies like Microsoft or SAS who grew their own.

Finally one last bit of good news from the survey -- BI spending will increase as companies integrate their BI applications into their business processes. Forty-seven percent of respondents said their budgets would increase and 43% said theirs would same at the current level.


Posted June 16, 2005 3:14 PM
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1 Comment

I do not dispute the value of data quality, but I do think this survey points out something I've long believed - that we're too hung up on it. Quite often providing simple data in easy-to-use tools is just the ticket. Provide some context (we have a few customers using textual "narratives" with their data) and let the business people interpret.

In fact, I fear many vendors will interpret these results to mean they need to add a workflow engine. This is a predictable response from software people. What we really need is more context - a soft concept that may be too amorphous to satisfy some. Perhaps we need a new title - Business Context Architect.

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