This blog post is part of an article published in Information Management on May 3, 2011
This serie of posts addresses some new innovations in BI. Business Intelligence has been around for years now, and I would argue that since the introduction of the Data warehousing model in the early 90s, not much has changed. Innovations in consumer electronics, entertainment, and communications have been revolutionizing the day-to-day lives of millions of people. Through the Internet, consumers have unlimited access to information and tools. Social networks, messaging and new media have changed the way people communicate and exchange information. On the other hand, BI has seemed to lack any disruptive innovation.
When industry watcher Nigel Pendse, was recently asked in an interview about his thoughts on the level of innovation in the BI industry, he answered the following: “Actually, I’m disappointed by the level of innovation in the BI tools market, even before the industry consolidation, which will certainly make it even worse. Many of the claimed ‘innovations’ are actually rehashed versions of ideas that have been around for ages ... I suppose the best opportunities will come from smaller, creative new vendors who take advantage of the likely mismanagement of the products acquired by large vendors. Many of the BI products now owned by the large non-BI vendors will fail to move forward or will not be promoted aggressively, thus leaving gaps in the market for nimbler vendors.”
For many years now, the Data warehousing model has been the leading paradigm for building BI architectures. However, despite its proven track-record, the Data warehousing model is nowadays being challenged by new concepts and technologies. Modern business managers are questioning the shortcomings and drawbacks of the current model both from an organizational and structural point of view. Developing a traditional multi-layered BI system is an expensive and labor-intensive exercise. To design and build a new version including ETL jobs, Star-schemas, Data marts, Reports, etc. takes a lot of time and resources.
In addition, highly qualified experts from various disciplines are required to deliver and build a new version on time. Delivery cycles ranging from 6 to 12 months are not an exception because of the various experts and technologies involved. Let’s face the facts, the Data warehousing model, as we know it today, has become too complex and rigid to support the required speed of decision needed in today’s 24/7 economy. To fulfill its promise and to meet future business requirements, BI needs to become user friendly, agile and flexible. Those out there in the field know that BI has not fulfilled its promises yet. Just ask yourself one of the following questions:
- How good is your BI solution in predicting the future? - How intelligent is your BI in anticipating events? - How much does it cost to maintain your BI? - How is the return on investment on your BI? - How agile and flexible is your BI system? - How good is your BI system in supporting end-users? - How easily does your BI provide access to business information?
Today’s BI systems, based on the Data warehousing model, are lacking some very basic features and functionalities that cannot be addressed within the model itself. Adding just another BI tool will only increase complexity and is therefore not an appropriate solution. To take things to the next level, we need to reconsider the foundations of the existing model. Tomorrow's BI will become the brain and the central nervous system of organizations. Management information doesn’t find itself locked in a management report any more. Instead, Business Intelligence is automatically being re-injected in operational business systems to adapt to ever changing market conditions. In this sense, BI is becoming a critical and active business function at the center of the enterprise information architecture. In the next posts, I would like to discuss a new paradigm for Business Intelligence including some concepts and solutions capable of changing the landscape, including Search-based BI, Agile BI, and Extended BI.