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Posted by Boris Evelson on July 3, 2014
The battle over customer versus internal business processes requirements and priorities has been fought — and the internal processes lost. Game over. Customers are now empowered with mobile devices and ubiquitous cloud-based all-but-unlimited access to information about products, services, and prices. Customer stickiness is extremely difficult to achieve as customers demand instant gratification of their ever changing needs, tastes, and requirements, while switching vendors is just a matter of clicking a few keys on a mobile phone. Forrester calls this phenomenon the age of the customer. The age of the customer elevates business and technology priorities to achieve:
Alas, enterprise grade BI platforms are often anything but agile. Indeed, all modern enterprise BI platforms are scalable and robust, support and promote a single version of the truth, and minimize operational risk. However, these capabilities carry a hefty price tag of complexity, rigidity, and inflexibility, and as a result they are slow to react to constantly changing customer and business requirements. This lack of BI agility promotes an unfortunate side effect — proliferation of shadow IT, “homegrown” BI applications”
A word of caution: Do not use the term Agile BI synonymously with the terms intuitive and user friendly — two hugely overused and hyped terms in BI. Unfortunately, these terms are highly subjective and qualitative. Point-and-click, drag-and-drop GUIs may be intuitive to an experienced professional with a background in command line interfaces, but not so obvious to a millennial who grew up with a thumb-typing mobile phone UI. And while menu- and prompt-driven instrumented (radio buttons, dialog boxes, etc.) applications may seem user friendly to left-brained people (who think in numbers and lists), right-brained office workers (who see the world in pictures and associations) may prefer an application driven by icons, visual associations, and artistic Infographics.
While mainly academic discussion of these terms may be thought-provoking, it’s not really actionable. Forrester takes a more pragmatic and practical approach and describes Agile BI in highly objective and quantifiable terms, which specifically address many of the shortcomings and limitations (rigid and restrictive data models, too much reliance on technology management professionals, and many others) of the traditional enterprise BI platforms, including platform features such as
Additionally, Agile BI requires capabilities that empower business users to be self-sufficient in their BI environment with little or no involvement from technology professionals. These capabilities are typically supported by BI platform features such as:
Last but not least, Agile BI requires rich advanced data visualization (ADV) capabilities. Older definitions of ADV (versus static data graphs and charts) included visual querying (without writing SQL code), dynamic visualizations (where visualizations dynamically changed based on query results), and several others. These features, however, are table stakes in all modern BI platforms and no longer differentiate one vendor from another. Today we look for differentiated ADV capabilities such as:
These bullets are only a starting point in your Agile BI journey. Access Forrester Agile BI Self Assessment Model to see all of the ~50 detailed Agile BI evaluation criteria (you can use it to self assess to see how Agile your current BI platforms are) and read our latest Forrester Agile BI Platforms Wave Q3 2014 to see how top 16 BI vendors stack up against these criteria.
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