In a recently published article (http://www.information-management.com/news/SAP-Oracle-IBM-Gartner-BI-analytics-PM-10022274-1.html) Gartner research predicts that Business Intelligence sales for the major vendors will continue to expand due to an increasing demand in analytical and cloud solutions. They also see “hyper growth” for (cloud based) new vendors filling BI niches like social and mobility. Andreas Bitterer and Bhavish Sood (both also from Gartner) again stress the importance of mobility in BI in another recent article (http://www.forbes.com/sites/gartnergroup/2012/04/24/mobile-business-intelligence-puts-data-on-the-road/) . Both articles share an overall focus on innovation and growth.
There is no denying that the amount of data is increasing and with this increase grows the realization that information can help drive smarter decisions. Therefore it is easy to understand the increased business demand. Meeting this demand is not the only a challenge for the supply side, but also often the IT department. Their current focus is less on innovation and growth, and more on cost reduction and budget costs. This impacts investments in Business Intelligence by IT and overall can slow down the delivery of intelligence to the business. And let’s not forget the other everyday challenges that many organizations have to deal with on top of this: Data Quality issues, non- performing BI platforms or lack of MDM (see Steve Jones’ recent blog for Capping IT Off: http://www.capgemini.com/technology-blog/2012/04/mastering-clarity-why-your-mdm-pitch-deck-should-have-3-points/). Simply said, in order to make smarter decisions, first you need better intelligence. Having said this, it seems that fixing the basics is equally as important as innovation and growth, and for some organizations a first logical step.
This brings me to the topic of speed skating. A sport for which we Dutch are world-famous. In this sport we also have seen some recent innovations, for example the clap skate (or “klapschaats” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clap_skate). This is a skate where a part of the blade is no longer fixed to the boot allowing for more ice contact and therefore faster results and new records. However, if you give me a clap skate, I will guarantee you that my performance will be horrible. Why? Because the guys and girls that use the clap skate are also excellent skaters on traditional skates. They have spent many years improving and refining their technique. The clap skates allow them to be even better. Just like the special swimsuits you see at the Olympics or racing bikes in the Tour de France. So first they are good at the sport, and now this innovation makes them even better. I would argue that the same applies for Business Intelligence. First you need to have a robust information foundation where you store and transform data. Where you guarantee the quality of the data, create that single version of the truth or manage performing BI platforms.
Don’t get me wrong. I love innovation and I think it is essential for improving your intelligence. So if you haven’t started a BI innovation project please do so asap. But only after having mastered the basics of BI, which you might already have, is it then time for business & IT to go on a journey together to find smarter insights through mobility and analytics, or more agility through cloud or SAAS solutions.