Monday, January 26, 2009

For What It's Worth - My 2009 Predictions

imageI recognize that I am a little behind the ball on predictions for the BI space in 2009.  We are technically not a full month into the new year, so I'll sneak this in.  I have to admit that I have had the opportunity to read a number of other posts on this topic, so I have late bloomer advantage.  I'll focus on areas that I think will have a large impact on us all.

Drum roll...  2009 BI Predictions

  • The Big 4 (SAP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle) will continue to gain market share in the Business Intelligence and Performance Management spaces.  This will be driven by the ongoing consolidation and integration of the various home grown and acquired technologies to deliver a more cohesive user experience.  These platforms will be attractive to the IT organization due to the ability to consolidate licensing with one vendor and to have one set of management tools to support.
  • Open Source BI platforms will spread BI below the $500M in revenue organization.  The cost of mainstream BI platforms can be prohibitive for small to medium size companies.  Open Source platforms will open up the power of BI to these organizations, allowing for zero cost proof of concepts and a lower TCO for a supported enterprise solution.  Expect these platforms to deliver 80% of the functionality at 20% of the cost.
  • Business Intelligence becomes a core requirement.  Given the uncertainties in the market, we will see an increased awareness of the importance to have the information to make the right decision.  In a strong market where people are buying products and services, it is easy to roll with the times and accept positive results without really knowing why.  When times get tough, risk tolerance becomes much lower.  This risk is mitigated by having the best possible information to make the decision at hand.

No matter what, it should be an exciting year!

For an exhaustive list of BI predictions for this year, visit the BI Questions Blog for a consolidated list.

BI Questions Blog - The Complete List of 2009 BI Predictions?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cut to the Truth: Answer a Business Question

As the wealth of data available to consumers of Business Intelligence in your organization exponentially increases, so does the opportunity to expose all this data... Even when we shouldn't...

What?? Don't leverage any and all information to analyze every aspect of the situation? Bite your tongue!

When we have decision makers that need to make a call and move on to the next problem, they don't have the time (or the patience) to sort through endless reams of data to find the nugget or two that will help them make the decision. It is critical that we always ask the golden question, "What business question are we trying to answer?"

Once we have identified the end purpose of our analysis, we can then focus our energies on leveraging all this data to show the proper trend, scoring or visualization as our end result. Don't try to overcomplicate your analysis, just focus on the 80% value you can deliver with 20% of the effort. Your customers will love you for making their jobs easier, and your solutions will be less costly and easier to maintain.

Don't you love the 80/20 rule? Simplicity at it's best.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Keep Your KPIs Fresh

image One thing that has caught my attention over the past couple of months is the emphasis on new financial metrics in this depressed market. Employment statistics used to be mentioned in passing, and now we breathlessly await the monthly numbers. Clearly the global recession is an entirely new environment, and investors would be wise to not rely on old metrics and approaches to guide them.

This made me think of how a core component of a good performance management system is keeping your metrics relevant to the current business environment they are attempting to measure. There is no such thing as permanent performance indicators. If your metrics don't change, then there is something wrong with your process. It is critical to keep your performance metrics focused on the current objectives and strategies of your business.

If your company is spending money differently, as all companies are doing in some way, then your performance indicators must change to reflect this. In these types of rapid change it is entirely possible that your core business strategy can shift significantly. It is essential that the keepers of corporate performance make it a continuous cycle to review and evaluate the suite of KPIs to ensure they are aligned to today's business reality.

This also speaks to the need for the IT organization to be able to rapidly respond to these changes in direction to provide the necessary data for the new KPIs. The best BI infrastructures are highly adaptable and responsive to change.

Step back and take a look at your metrics. Are they still relevant?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Leapfrogging the Competition

frogger These are unsettling times, every family and every organization is looking closely at what they spend their money on, and the value they get from these expenses.  In order to do this effectively, it all comes down to making sound decisions with the best possible information you can obtain.  You wouldn't decide to change anything in your household, such as trading in your SUV for a Volkswagen without understanding all the angles such as financing, gas mileage, capacity, warranty, etc.  Hmmm, decisions and information... sounds like a recipe for Business Intelligence!

Every organization is in their own unique way poised to take advantage of better access to information to make sound, informed decisions to guide them in this current market economy.  Rather than cutting costs without understanding the long term impacts, use information and analytics to truly understand the cost from all angles (slice & dice).  We can also use information to look for new opportunities, such as using this downturn to acquire customers from our competitors by targeting them with advertisements that show the value of the product to them (segmentation & personalization).

This may be the time to consider increasing your company's investments in Business Intelligence technology and people, rather than trimming costs.  ROI doesn't stop happening in a down market, get out there and leapfrog your competition!

This is a personal weblog, and does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer.