New research has revealed that the isolated, tactical use of business intelligence (BI) tools is outdated, inefficient and needs rapid closure. Instead, BI’s future value to organizations is expected to come from the extended use of enterprise intelligence services.
A new report has identified that most current business intelligence deployments were brought in to deal with departmental data control and management issues. As a result the technology’s ability to support enterprise intelligence requirements is being severely constrained.
The era in which the isolated use of multiple BI tools can be relied upon to support enterprise decision making is outdated, inefficient and must come to a close. The future value of BI to business organizations will come from the extended use of enterprise intelligence services that incorporate the use of products with the capacity to be used as genuine, enterprise-wide, data access, management, and information delivery solutions.
However, BI has consistently failed to endear itself to the end-user as it is yet to shake off its image of being a provider of solutions for the technically aware.
Why are enterprises failing to use BI more effectively?
Enterprise organizations have become incredibly good at capturing data. They have the capability to hold information about every customer that has ever transacted business with them, or every citizen that resides within their jurisdiction. They’ve worked hard at taking in information and building up terabytes of stored data across a variety of individually controlled operational systems and databases, but, unfortunately, the good news ends there.
Improvement needs to be made to both data quality and data usage. Furthermore, over the last five years, business has spent too much of its IT budget on the purchase of ineffective departmentally-focused data interrogation tools.
In the BI arena, data has no intrinsic value unless it can be used to support business decisions. BI technology already provides a strong and supportable range of business-focused tools and products that are relevant to the needs of business organizations today. Utilized more efficiently, BI technology has the capability to support all types of business user, irrespective of their data manipulation skills.
However, core BI usage has historically been viewed as the domain of a small number of IT-savvy power users. If BI in general is to force its way into becoming accepted as a mainstream data management and information delivery service, business users rather than technologists will have to determine and agree its future.
In this respect, the technology has both the capacity and capability to make the required leap from tactical deployments through to enterprise-wide strategic usage; but if it is to do so, the business community need to become more convinced than they are today about the operational, technological, and financial advantages.
To date we have merely scratched the surface of what properly deployed enterprise BI can achieve in support of the business, but taking that extra step forward will only become feasible once a number of hard business decisions have been made.
Business will only be able to improve its information services, and obtain real value from the ever-increasing data silos that it continues to generate, when it accepts the significant advantages to be gained from integrating and standardizing its approach to the management of its BI technology services. Operationally, businesses will benefit from the enterprise capabilities of BI by consolidating their requirements down to the systems resources of a selected vendor.
Key cost saving benefits through consolidation
At an enterprise level, the key capabilities required to deliver end-to-end information management from a single platform infrastructure are data quality and extract, transform, and load (ETL) services; data storage and management; metadata management; performance management (forecasting, budgeting, and planning); query and analysis; key performance indicator (KPI) management and dashboard creation; and enterprise-level reporting.
Also, the usage and availability of enterprise BI servers from many leading BI vendors is becoming more common, as is the use of web technology to increase information availability and simultaneously reduce the IT support load by encouraging self-service.
Web-based BI facilities provide the opportunity to encourage users to take control of their own information needs, which can have a dramatic impact on the efficiency with which information is used within businesses. In addition, the availability of enterprise reporting facilities is seen as a cornerstone component of the enterprise BI model.
Cost-saving benefits will essentially come from economies of scale – simplified management, simplified maintenance, and from reductions in support and end-user training costs. But this tells only part of the story. The real financial benefits to the organization will come from the better, more consistent, and more competitive use that the business can make of integrated operational intelligence – intelligence that can be delivered from a single source, and intelligence that, at the same time, can provide the capacity to support power users, line-of-business decision makers, and all types of information consumer.
BI technology is supported by a powerful and mature set of software and solutions vendors, delivers well established and well understood solutions, and has industry-wide devotees across pretty much all business sectors. However, its usage within the wider business sense will only materialize once it breaks away from its position as a provider of technology for the power users, data miners, highly skilled finance and business managers, and the business analyst community.