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Claudia Imhoff

Welcome to my blog.

This is another means for me to communicate, educate and participate within the Business Intelligence industry. It is a perfect forum for airing opinions, thoughts, vendor and client updates, problems and questions. To maximize the blog's value, it must be a participative venue. This means I will look forward to hearing from you often, since your input is vital to the blog's success. All I ask is that you treat me, the blog, and everyone who uses it with respect.

So...check it out every week to see what is new and exciting in our ever changing BI world.

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

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

A recent InfoWorld Research Report on Business Intelligence gave very high marks to the use and adoption of BI among its readers. The results found that nearly two-thirds of respondents rated BI as high-to-critical priority for the next few years. This certainly bodes very well for BI in corporations worldwide but there were a few dark clouds looming too. Here are some of the results from the survey.

According to the report, spending on business intelligence software is now more than $8 billion and growing by more than $200 million per year. Given that, it becomes really important to understand what BI features are important to customers and prospects, what business requirements are satisfied with BI implementations, and what hurdles still remain to implementations. Here are some highlights from the report:

Almost half of the respondents already have implemented BI solutions and another quarter are actively evaluating the solutions available today. Vendors, this is good news for you because most seem to be evaluating BI packages.

What features are important? The most important was the ability to drill down into more detailed information with 78% of the respondents rating it as highly important. Sorting and filtering was next in line. Next came a consistent user interface. This has become increasingly important over the years as more and more novice or non-technical business people join the ranks of BI users.

Another feature that was highly sought after was the ability to visualize data. Again with new or novice users, the ability to access and understand massive amounts of data means that visualization becomes a critical component. This goes way beyond the old “ease of use” requirement, doesn't it?

When asked what drove the respondents to build a BI environment, the number one reason was to achieve better quality data. IMHO, compliance is starting to have a significant impact on our BI implementations. This response should certainly make the data quality vendors like FirstLogic, Ascential (now IBM), DataFlux, DataLever, etc., happy!

Other reasons cited for their BI implementations were the need to integrate BI software into their existing infrastructure (perhaps to better do BPM or OPM?), and a third said their BI environment was created for security and user rights management – an interesting utilization for BI…

So – what is holding back the growth of BI in corporations? No surprise here – MONEY. Almost half of the respondents said budget constraints are limiting their ability to roll out BI. CEOs and CFOs – listen up! Loosen up the purse strings and get these critical projects their funding. Obviously you think you need BI so put your money where your requirements are!

Another constraint was the time it takes to implement a BI project. Even though most projects take less than a year to reach production-ready states, it appears that this timeframe is still not fast enough. I hope the demand for BI does not cause project managers to cut corners by cutting out those parts of the architecture needed for sustainability and maintainability – like going straight to the mart and bypassing the warehouse. This shortsightedness will only cripple your BI effort in the long run.

The last constraint mentioned was the user interface – again. More than a third of the respondents said the UI in their current BI solution is not appropriate for all potential users. More than half of the respondents wanted a UI that more resembled a simple search browser. I think this gets back to the changing demographic of BI users to the less technically-oriented ones. It appears that those BI vendors such as SAS and Microsoft who offer a full suite of BI offerings (running the gamut from simple querying and reporting to multi-dimensional analysis to advanced predictive and mining capabilities), all the while maintaining a consistent and simple user interface, may be the winners in the long run.

While these constraints may slow down BI adoption, the good news is that almost half of the InfoWorld respondents stated that their companies will spend MORE on BI next year, and a whopping 70% expect their business user base to increase. What this says to me is that despite a shaky economy, some less than successful implementations here and there, BI on the whole is meeting and actually satisfying a significant business need. Congratulations to all you BI Project Managers. Keep up the good work!

Yours in BI success!


Posted August 9, 2005 10:01 PM
Permalink | 2 Comments |


Very true - I am noticing increasing interest in improving data quality, data warehousing and business intelligence in the financial sector.

Excellent commentary, Claudia. You and I share the same concern that companies will try to accelerate BI projects by under-architecting and continuing to build one-off, stove-piped, non-extensible solutions. However, the best way we BI practitioners can address that issue is to demonstrate that "architecture" doesn't have to mean a slow, lumbering, expensive process.

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