First published: June 2010
By Jon Collins
Information continues to grow, and yet the challenges we face in managing information remain the same. With this in mind, we consider how organisations are moving forward with their strategies to get value from information based on the results of two IT Professional surveys conducted three years apart, in March 2007 and May 2010.
Data challenges remain prevalent across organisations of all sizes
Information volumes continue to grow. Against this background, user complaints around information fragmentation, consistency and availability remain – if anything, users are becoming more vocal about these issues. While the majority of organisations agree with the benefits of delivering information broadly across the organisation, a decreasing number believe that they have this cracked.
The need for a BI strategy is still recognised, even if traditional tools are on the wane
Interestingly, increasing numbers of mid-sized and smaller organisations confirm the need for an overall business intelligence strategy. While the use of traditional BI tools has increased slightly, the growth rate itself has decreased – dropping from 45% to 31% in the case of data warehousing/analytics within mainstream DBMSs, for example.
Challenges around BI deployments go some way to explaining this shortfall
Experience of BI principles and practice has increased over the past three years (despite there being little credit given to vendors’ ambiguous or confused marketing speak). So, we can have some confidence in the challenges prioritised by respondents, not least of which include difficulties in defining requirements, and the fact that existing systems are too piecemeal to form a solid enough foundation for good BI.
Information is still seen as a competitive enabler, but it needs to be delivered right
There is general agreement from respondents that information is a competitive enabler, even if this number has fallen slightly. However, the way in which BI needs to be delivered is different to how it is currently in place – the preference is for a properly designed and coordinated BI infrastructure blending appropriate capabilities from different vendors.
Increasing focus is on delivery mechanisms for BI, rather than back-end tools
While traditional BI has focused more on repositories and analytical systems, the main growth areas are more about delivery mechanisms such as portals and reporting tools, workflow and rules engines. The important take-away is that for BI to be done right, organisations need to focus definition efforts around both back-end systems and information delivery, to avoid delivering partial solutions which offer little incremental benefit.
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