Monday, October 6, 2008

Missing the boat on BI

An article on today's CRM Daily brings into focus the startling misconceptions about Business Intelligence. The author declares that the "greatest challenge has been how to integrate data on different systems accumulated from different vendors over many years."

Without minimizing the inherent difficulties associated with bringing together data from disparate sources, doesn't this completely ignore the larger, more intractable problem of defining the scope of a BI solution? BI projects often represent significant investments of time, money and energy. They can be intense and draining. And yet, for all the effort, the first 12-18 months often yield little more than what can be capture on a sophisticated spreadsheet.

Tool makers, like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, understandably focus on the technology aspects. And their sales demo's gloss over the integration challenges that consume much of the projects' budgets. But the reason that momentum fades during these initiatives is that substantive value is rarely accomplished in the short term. Executive patience is a rare commodity, especially in publicly traded companies. And today's economic conditions mean there is very little appetite for projects with 2-year benefit horizons.

As business technologists, we must tighten our planning windows in order to bring rapid benefit to the organizations. Our focus must be on positive cash flow initiatives.

Link to the CRM Daily article: The Challenges of Business Intelligence by Peter Simons.

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