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Lyndsay Wise

Hi and welcome to my blog! I look forward to bringing you weekly posts about what is happening in the world of BI, CDI and marketing performance management.

About the author >

Lyndsay is the President and Founder of WiseAnalytics, an independent analyst firm specializing in business intelligence, master data management and unstructured data. For more than seven years, she has assisted clients in business systems analysis, software selection and implementation of enterprise applications. Lyndsay conducts regular research studies, consults, writes articles and speaks about improving the value of business intelligence within organizations. She can be reached at lwise@wiseanalytics.com.

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

The business intelligence market is diverse. Many organizations try to decipher which solution will work best in their environment but find it challenging because of the number of vendors and similar marketing campaigns. Although there is no easy way to simplify the BI landscape, decision makers can break out potential solutions based on their needs to identify which offerings are on target. It should be noted that some vendors fall into more than one category, while others are niche vendors that do one thing well. In the latter case, an organization may have to develop a piecemeal approach to make sure that all business and technical needs are addressed. 

The following are overviews of product categories based on business challenges being faced within organizations. Technical infrastructure and data management are also taken into account because any successful BI offering also requires the management of data assets:

  1. Reporting – organizations need reports and many still use standardized reporting solutions. Some BI vendors have reporting modules or specialize in reporting, while others are focused specifically on visualizations. 
  2. Dashboards – represent a big trend as they provide data representations and metrics in a visually interactive way. Many organizations like dashboards due to their highly interactive nature. Vendors offer varying levels of analytics within their dashboards. Some only visualize the data meaning that it needs to be stored with associated business rules separately, while others also offer analytical capabilities.
  3. Operational intelligence – some organizations require near real-time access to information. In these cases, operational intelligence becomes important so that relevant metrics can be updated on a regular basis with the flexibility to reflect the needs of the business. This means that different use cases will have different latency requirements.
  4. Advanced analytics – this is a broader category and could be divided further but for the purposes of this overview, it can remain a single category. A variety of analytics exist. Some organizations have complexities that require the management of many business rules and statistical algorithms while others want predictive and what if? capabilities. Certain solution providers provide targeted analytics while others are considered generalists – meaning they offer general capabilities but not many niche analytics.
  5. Data Warehousing – although some businesses are moving away from traditional data warehousing, the reality is that companies require a way to consolidate, centralize, and manage their analytical infrastructure. In some cases, a data warehouse is the most effective way. Even if it’s not, every organization evaluating BI should look at their data to identify how it needs to be managed.
  6. Data integration – helps transition data from one source to another. Within BI applications, it also serves as a transformation engine, can help provide quality control, and work towards providing a cohesive view of information assets both internal and external to the organization.

Some or all of these areas may apply when looking at advancing a BI initiative. The reality is that selecting the right solution means first getting the category right – selecting a reporting solution when advanced analytics are required will only lead to failure. Organizations need to be prepared to identify what their business and technical requirements are and how the market can best serve them – otherwise the risks for failure are too high.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Posted April 30, 2014 9:51 PM
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