The Death of Business Intelligence

Do businesses need a better focus for big data conversations?

Posted in Business Intelligence by TheLondonEconomic on August 15, 2013

Big data is a concept that has come more and more into the business sector in the last few years, growing at an average rate of ten per cent per year, which is twice as fast as the software market in general.

However, while this advance has become priceless to firms over a number of years as it becomes more and more widespread, an expert has questioned whether the way that the concept itself is talked about is having a detrimental effect on the impact it has on business intelligence (BI).

Speaking on a podcast with another independent BI analyst, chief executive officer of Yellowfin, a BI analytics firm, Glen Rabie, said that while the concept itself is fantastic, some of the rhetoric that has become commonplace has proved a hindrance to the use of big data as a technological advance.

He said that the concept represented a backward step in the way consumers are able to engage with their customers because of the way it is put across in conversations, which the expert claimed had become very technically complex, and thus far too confusing for many users and normal customers to understand.

Promotion of the use of big data should be about showing companies what business intelligence firms will do with data, why they use it in this way, as well as how BI companies can help them to address the situation, but Mr Rabie said it has changed now and become all about “selling the virtues of the technology.”

Customers, he added, need to know what to use in terms of big data and when they need to do so, but because of the way conversations work at the current time it has become the case that many consumers feel a degree of trepidation and big data paralysis because they don’t have the vital information that they need surrounding the technology.

This was a theory that was backed up by Gartner, which said that BI companies need to do more to ensure that there is an understanding of the technology rather than just throwing largely irrelevant information at potential customers.

It said that there is often a lot of confusion between terms such as ‘big data’, ‘BI’, ‘blunting BI spend’ and ‘analytics,’ an issue that needs to be addressed presently to help boost the market in big data technology.

Mr Rabie concluded: “And no vendor is actually helping in that space. No one is saying this is when you use my technology, this is the most appropriate time, or this is the most appropriate use case,” adding that there is a tendency to move away from teaching people about the best practice for how to use big data, instead turning towards sales pitches that inform people that they need to use it rather than where, when and why.


How to avoid the pitfalls of BI

Posted in Business Intelligence by TheLondonEconomic on August 15, 2013

Business Intelligence (BI) technology has become more and more common in the world of fast-paced business as a way to make sure that owners, managers and other decision makers can carry out the correct course of action at all times by making use of all the data and analysis available to them, ensuring a degree of safety in what they decide to do.

However, while it has become something that is more and more prevalent throughout the world, the complex array of tools and platforms on offer has meant that there are often pitfalls that companies need to make sure they avoid, with some being common problems experienced time and again across the market.

Exercising best practice is always a way to ensure the greatest chance of success, but even the top companies make mistakes from time to time, so what are the most common errors seen in BI?

The assumption of user knowledge

Perhaps the most oft-seen is the failure to take people’s skills and technical nous into consideration when deciding what BI tools to use at a company.

It is often the decision makers, and not the actual users who are at fault in this case because they choose tools that they believe will be most effective without considering the skills of those who will be using them in the end, leading to problems down the line.

One of the easiest ways to sidestep this pitfall is to look at bringing a non-technical person into the tool selection committee, where they can give their views and air their concerns about the skill and time required to utilise certain technology, which will be valuable input in the time ahead.

Over reliance on a data warehouse

According to IT News Africa, one of the most common failings can be to assume that data warehouses will solve all problems that come to the fore in the field of BI.

It said that issues arise when it is assumed the data warehouse can iron out all of the creases that arrive, as well as believing that the availability of them will drive customers towards the required information.

In fact, many solutions do not need data warehouses, and can rely on integration and portal technology that allows data to sit where it is and be brought up as and when it is needed. Using data warehouses without actually taking time to find out if they are needed can add an extra expense without anything having actually been solved along the way.

Choosing tools which have no specific need

Another issue that can rear its head in the process of selecting tools is that some can be chosen almost for the sake of it, rather than with any specific need or use in mind.

Without a solid strategy and a mapped out list of requirements, the purchase of certain parts of BI software can represent one of the biggest expenditures businesses will face, as well as the lowest level of return on investment (ROI).

While companies will often recognise the fact that BI can have a positive effect on business, a failure to actually set out what they want from it before they start can end up leaving them spending a lot of money and actually receiving very little in return.