How To Have The BI Cake And Eat It Too: A (Or The) BI Prediction For 2014

Rather than going with the usual, ubiquitous, and often (yawn) repetitive “top 10 BI predictions” for the next year, we thought we’d try something different. After all, didn’t the cult movie Highlander prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that “in the end there will be only one”? And didn’t the Lord Of The Rings saga convince us that we need one prediction “to rule them all”? The proposed top BI prediction for 2014 rests on the following indisputable facts:
  • Business and IT are not aligned. Business and IT stakeholders still have a huge BI disconnect (after all these years — what a shocker!). This is not surprising. Business users mostly care about their requirements, which are driven by their roles and responsibilities, daily tasks, internal processes, and dealings with customers (who have neither patience nor interest in enterprises’ internal rules, policies, and processes). These requirements often trump IT goals and objectives to manage risk and security and be frugal and budget minded by standardizing, consolidating, and rationalizing platforms. Alas, these goals and objective often take business and IT in different directions.
  • Requirements are often lost in translation. Business and IT speak different languages. Business speaks in terms of customer satisfaction, improved top and bottom lines, whereas IT speaks in metrics (on a good day), star schemas, facts, and dimensions. Another consideration is that it’s human nature to say what we think others want to hear (yes, we all want our yearly bonus) versus what we really mean. My father, a retired psychiatrist, always taught me to pay less attention to what people say and pay more attention to what people actually do — quite handy and wise fatherly advice that often helps navigate corporate politics.
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SAP Takes Another Step Towards Agile BI With KXEN Acquisition

Business intelligence (BI) is an evergreen that simply refuses to give up and get commoditized. Even though very few vendors try to differentiate these days on commodity features like point and click, drag and drop, report grouping, ranking, and sorting filtering (for those that still do: Get with the program!), there are still plenty of innovative and differentiated features to master. We categorize these capabilities under the aegis of Forrester agile BI; they include:

  • Making BI more automated: suggestive BI, automatic information discovery, contextual BI, integrated and full BI life cycle, BI on BI.
  • Making BI more pervasive: embedding BI within applications and processes, within the information workplace, and collaborative, self-service, mobile, and cloud-based BI.
  • Making BI more unified: unifying structured data and unstructured content, batch and streaming BI, historical and predictive, and handling complex nonrelational data structures.
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Get ready for BI change

Market conditions are changing quickly; firms need to make the best possible business decisions at the right time and base them on timely, accurate, and relevant information from business intelligence (BI) solutions. The repercussions of not handling BI change well are especially painful and may include lost revenue, lower staff morale and productivity, continued proliferation of shadow IT BI applications, and unwanted employee departures. Ineffective change management often lies in the process of preparing the people affected by change rather than in planning the technology implementation. Firms that fail to prepare employees for enterprise BI change early enough or well enough will be left behind. They need to implement a multifaceted series of activities ranging from management communication about why change is needed to in-depth, role-appropriate employee training. 

 
Why change management is so critical? Most strategic business events, like mergers, are high-risk initiatives involving major changes over two or more years; others, such as restructuring, must be implemented in six months. In the case of BI, some changes might need to happen within a few weeks or even days. All changes will lead to either achieving or failing to achieve a business result. There are seven major categories of business and organizational change:
  • People acquisitions
  • Technology acquisitions 
  • Business process changes 
  • New technology implementations 
  • Organizational transformations
  • Leadership changes
  • Changes to business process outsourcing or IT sourcing 
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How to estimate cost of BI deployment

Initial business intelligence (BI) ployment efforts are often difficult to predict and may dwarf the investment you made in BI platform software. The effort and costs associated with professional services, whether you use internal staff or hire contractors, depend not only on the complexity of business requirements like metrics, measures, reports, dashboards, and alerts, but also on the number of data sources you are integrating, the complexity of your data integration processes, and logical and physical data modeling. At the very least Forrester recommends considering the following components and their complexity to estimate development, system integration and deployment effort:

  • Top down business requirements such number of 
    • Goals and objectives
    • Metrics, Measures
    • Attributes and dimensions
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Streamline Your BI Strategy With Forrester's BI Playbook

CEOs and other senior executives must identify ways to improve their enterprise performance by boosting profitability, raising market share, and leapfrogging competitors. But achieving these objectives is not as simple as just looking at the numbers. What about nonfinancial measures (e.g., customer loyalty and employee satisfaction) that don’t show up in financial accounting? How do you quickly and efficiently get the full 360-degree view of your business?

In order to execute their business strategy, business and IT execs need a business-focused, strategic, and pragmatic way to measure their finances and operations — popularly referred to as business intelligence (BI). Without such measurements — supported by enterprisewide BI deployments — businesses can’t link operational results to strategy. Organizations will also find it difficult to get a coherent view of their internal and external processes, customers, logistics, operations, and finances.

However, most firms struggle with BI strategies and programs because turning data into information is an open-ended concept. They frequently go in the wrong direction because of traditional (and often outdated) views and approaches and a focus on technology instead of business, which results in BI programs that are tactical and only project-based. What these firms need is an approach to BI that, while staying true to the importance of long-term vision and looking across silos, provides the flexibility to accommodate varying levels of resource commitment and the political, historical, and cultural obstacles that BI programs often face. Think of Forrester’s new business intelligence playbook as your BI bible; it should guide your BI decisions every step of the way.

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BI on BI Or How BI Pros Must Eat Their Own Dog Food

 

BI professionals spend a significant portion of their time trying to instill the discipline of datadriven performance management into their business partners. However, isn’t there something wrong with teaching someone else to fly when you’re still learning to walk? Few BI pros have a way to measure their BI performance quantitatively (46% do not measure BI performance efficiencies and 55% do not measure effectiveness). Everyone collects statistics on the database and BI application server performance, and many conduct periodic surveys to gauge business users’ level of satisfaction. But how do you really know if you have a high-performing, widely used, popular BI environment? For example, you should know BI performance

  • Efficiency metrics such as number of times a report is used or a number of duplicate/similar reports, etc
  • Effectiveness metrics such as average number of clicks to find a report and clicks within a report to find an answer to a question and many others
  • Metric attributes/dimensions such as users, roles, departments, LOBs, regions and others
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Ways To Address BI Skills Shortage

Whether you are just starting on your BI journey or are continuing to improve on past successes, a shortage of skilled and experienced BI resources is going to be one of your top challenges. You are definitely not alone in this quest. Here are some scary statistics:
  • “By 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills, as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.” (Source: May 2012 McKinsey Global Institute report on Big Data)
  • “… trigger a talent shortage, with up to 190,000 skilled professionals needed to cope with demand in the US alone over the next five years.” (Source: 2012 Deloitte report on technology trends)
  • “Fewer than 25% of the survey respondents worldwide said they have the skills and resources to analyze unstructured data, such as text, voice, and sensor data.” (Source: 2012 research report by IBM and the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford)
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A Bit Of BI Humor

We all work very hard to make our BI initiatives, programs, platforms, applications, and tools very successful. We need a break. And what better way to relax than to joke about what we do? So... as my favorite Monty Python’s Flying Circus bit goes, “And now for something completely different [in BI]”:

  • Q: What’s the ROI/cost to achieve a single version of the truth?
  • A: 42 (compliments of my other favorite medium, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy).

 

  • Q: How many BI pros does it take to screw in a light bulb?
  • A: None — it’s an appliance.

 

  • Q: How many BI pros does it take to screw in a light bulb?
  • A: It depends. How do you measure/analyze/report on success?

Looking for lots more to brighten up our BI days, so please post away!

Mobile BI And Cloud BI Evaluation Criteria

Mobile BI and cloud BI are among the top trends that we track in the industry. Our upcoming Enterprise BI Platforms Wave™ will dedicate a significant portion of vendor evaluation on these two capabilities. These capabilities are far from yes/no checkmarks. Just asking vague questions like “Can you deliver your BI functionality on mobile devices?” and “Is your BI platform available in the cloud as software-as-a-service?” will lead to incomplete vendor answers, which in turn may lead you to make the wrong vendor selections. Instead, we plan to evaluate these two critical BI platform capabilities along the following parameters:

Mobile BI

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Business Intelligence / Analytics / Big Data Leader Job Description

Clients often ask Forrester to help them define a job description for a business intelligence (BI) / analytics / big data leader, executive, or manager. Here’s what we typically provide:

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