Decision Management, Possibly The Last Frontier In BI

Just read an excellent article on the subject by Tom Davenport. We at Forrester Research indeed see the same trend, where more advanced enterprises are starting to venture into combining reporting and analytics with decision management.  In my point of view, this breaks down into at least two categories:

  • Automated (machine) vs. non automated (human) decisions, and
  • Decisions that involve structured (rules and workflows) and unstructured (collaboration) processes
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Why I Don't Want To Research BI Market Size

I know, I know, this is what analysts do. But I personally would never want to get involved in doing a BI market size – it’s open game for serious critique. Here are some of the reasons, but the main one is a good old “garbage in garbage out.” I am not aware of any BI market size study that took into account the following questions:

  • What portion of the DBMS market (DW, DBMS OLAP) do you attribute to BI?
  • What portion of the BPM market (BAM, process dashboards, etc.) do you attribute to BI?
  • What portion of the ERP market (with built-in BI apps, such as Lawson, Infor, etc.) do you attribute to BI?
  • What portion of the portal market (SharePoint is the best example) do you attribute to BI?
  • What portion of the search market (Endeca, Google Analytics, etc.) do you attribute to BI?
  • What is the market size of custom developed BI applications?
  • What is the market size of self built BI apps using Excel, Access, etc?
  • On the other side, what is the % of licenses sold that are shelfware and should not be counted?

Plus many more unknowns. But, if someone indeed did do such a rough estimate, my bet is that the actual BI market size is probably 3x to 4x larger than any current estimate.

Use A Four-Step Approach To Select The Right BI Services Provider

BI projects are never short, and, alas, many of them don't end since a fast-paced business environment often introduces new requirements, enhancements, and updates before you're even done with your first implementation. Therefore, we typically recommend doing sufficient due diligence upfront when selecting a BI services provider — as you may be stuck with them for a long time. We recommend the following key steps in your selection process:

  1. Map BI project requirements to potential providers. Firms should use Forrester's "BI Services Provider Short-Listing Tool" to create a shortlist of potential providers. With the tool you can input details about your geographic scope, technology needs, and the type of third-party support you need (i.e., consulting versus implementation versus hosting/outsourcing).  The tool then outputs a list of potential providers that meet the criteria. For each potential fit, the tool also generates a provider profile summary that offers key details around practice size, characteristics, and areas of expertise.
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Where Do You Draw The Lines Between Business And IT Ownership Of Data And Information?

I get many questions on this subject and it often turns into almost a religious debate. Let's throw some structure into it. Here's a decision-to-raw-data stack.

  1. Decisions
  2. Strategy
  3. Policies
  4. Objectives (e.g., clear understanding of what is driving revenue performance)
  5. Goals (e.g., achieve x% income growth)
  6. Calculated metrics (any combination, variation of the standard metrics or KPIs)
  7. KPIs (e.g., profitability, liquidity, shareholders value)
  8. KPMs (e.g., enterprise value, trailing/forward price/earnings)
  9. Metrics (e.g., fee income growth %, non-fee income growth %)
  10. Dimensions (part of MDM, e.g., customers, customer segments, products, time, region)
  11. Pre-calculated attributes (standard, cross-enterprise metrics, KPIs, and KPMs)
  12. Pre-built aggregates (used to speed up reports and queries)
  13. Analytical data (DW, DM)
  14. Operational data (ERP, CRM, financials, HR)

Obviously, it's never a clear-cut, binary decision, but in my humble opinion:

  • 1-6 should emphasize business ownership
  • 10-14 should emphasize IT ownership
  • 7-9 is where it gets murky, and ownership depends on whether metric/KPI/KPM is: 1) standard and fixed, 2) fluid and changes frequently, 3) different by product, line of business, or region.

What did I miss? Thoughts?

What’s Next On The MDM Horizon?

Many large organizations have finally “seen the light” and are trying to figure out the best way to treat their critical data as the trusted asset it should be. As a result, master data management (MDM) strategies, and the enabling architectures, organizational and governance models, methodologies and technologies that support the delivery of MDM capabilities are…in a word…HOT! But the concept of MDM - and the homegrown or vendor-enabled technologies that attempt to deliver that elusive “single version of truth”, “golden record”, or “360-degree view” - has been around for decades in one form or another (e.g., data warehousing, BI, data quality, EII, CRM, ERP, etc. have all at one time or another promised to deliver that single version of truth in one form or another).

The current market view of MDM has matured significantly over the past 5 years, and today many organizations are on their way to successfully delivering multi-domain/multi-form master data solutions across various physical and federated architectural approaches. But the long-term evolution of the MDM concept is far from over. There remains a tremendous gap in what limited business value most MDM efforts deliver today compared to what all MDM and data management evangelists feel MDM is capable of delivering in terms of business optimization, risk mitigation, and competitive differentiation.

What will the next evolution of the MDM concept look like in the next 3, 5 and 10 years? Will the next breakthrough be one that’s focused on technology enablement? How about information architecture? Data governance and stewardship? Alignment with other enterprise IT and business strategies?

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Is EMC Moving To Tackle Data Management Market?

As I’m sure everyone has heard by now, EMC acquired data warehouse appliance vendor, Greenplum.  I don’t cover the data warehousing and analytics space, I leave that to my colleague Jim Kobielus who discussed this acquisition on his blog. While many data warehousing and analytics thought leaders will debate the likelihood that this acquisition will spark a wave of consolidation in the DW/analytics space, I’d like to focus on what’s going through the mind of the acquirer: EMC.   I was intrigued by this acquisition because EMC has been on my very short list of potential new entrants into the data management software space, especially concerning master data management (MDM) and data integration.

So to cut to the chase, in this blog post I’m going to recommend to EMC that they acquire both Informatica and TIBCO and challenge IBM for world domination of the information management market.  Here’s my thought process:

EMC hinting at data management interest for a while now

EMC, a $14+billion information management powerhouse, has a product portfolio very focused on the unstructured content side of the information landscape. According to its latest 10K filed earlier this year, most of its business comes from its hardware and software Information Storage solutions ($10.7 billion), but significant business also contributed by its VMWare Virtual Infrastructure ($2+ billion), Enterprise Content Management and Archiving ($740 million) as well as its RSA Information Security solutions ($606 million).

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Best practices for using spreadsheets as BI tools

By Boris Evelson

We all know that the war of fighting the proliferation of spreadsheets (as BI or as any other applications) in enterprises has been fought and lost. Gone are the days when BI and performance management vendors web sites had “let us come in and help you get rid of your spreadsheets” message in big bold letters on front pages. In my personal experience – implementing hundreds of BI platforms and solutions – the more BI apps you deliver, the more spreadsheets you end up with. Rolling out a BI application often just means an easier way for someone to access and export data to a spreadsheet. Even though some of the in memory analytics tools are beginning to chip away at the main reasons why spreadsheets in BI are so ubiquitous  (self service BI with no modeling or analysis constraints, and little to no reliance on IT), the spreadsheets for BI are here to stay for a long, long, long time.

With that in mind, let me offer a few best practices for controlling and managing (not getting rid of !) spreadsheets as a BI tool:

  1. Create a spreadsheet governance policy. Make it flexible – if it’s not, people will fight it. Here are a few examples of such policies:
    • - Spreadsheets can be used for reporting and analysis that support processes that do not go beyond individuals or small work groups vs. cross functional, cross enterprise processes  
    • - Spreadsheets can be used for reporting and analysis that are not part of mission critical processes
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Oracle OBIEE 11g Launch: "We are back!"

Whoever said BI market is commoditizing, consolidating and getting very mature? Nothing can be farther from the truth. On the buy side, Forrester still sees tons of less-than-successful BI environments, applications and implementations as demonstrated by Forrester's recent BI Maturity survey. On the vendor/sell side, Forrester also sees a flurry of activity from the startups, small vendors and large, leading BI vendors constantly leapfrogging each other with every major and minor release.

In terms of the amount of BI activity that Forrester sees from our clients (from inquiries, advisories and consulting) there’s no question that SAP BusinessObjects and IBM Cognos continue to dominate client interest. Over the past couple of years Microsoft has typically taken the third place, SAS  fourth place and Oracle the distant fifth. But ever since Siebel and Hyperion acquisitions, the landscape has been changing, and we now often see Oracle jumping into third place, sometimes leapfrogging even Microsoft in the levels of monthly interest from Forrester clients.

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Data Governance Remains Immature: Increase Focus On Business Process To Build Momentum

I just read a great blog post by Marty Moseley discussing the results of a data governance survey he and his team recently fielded. The feedback he collected matches recent data-governance-related surveys and interviews I've done with my clients at Forrester - the general consensus being that most data governance programs - if they exist at all - remain extremely immature and fraught with risks. The most common roadblocks range from minimal to no executive sponsorship (as Marty also noted), IT-driven efforts with limited to no business participation, lack of business justification and the ever-present likelihood of "de-prioritization" when a more compelling initiative or fire drill comes along.

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