Does The Good Old 80/20 Rule Work For Estimating BI Costs?

I get tons of questions about "how much it costs to develop an analytical application." Alas, as most of us unfortunately know, the only real answer to that question is “it depends.” It depends on the scope, requirements, technology used, corporate culture and at least a few dozen of more dimensions. However, at the risk of a huge oversimplification, in many cases we can often apply the good old 80/20 rule as follows:

Components

  • ~20% for software, hardware, and other data center and communications infrastructure
  • ~80% for full time employees, outside services (analysis, design, coding, testing, integration, implementation, etc), new processes, new initiatives (governance, change management, training)

Initial softare costs (~80%) vs. Ongoing software license maintenance costs (~20% / year)

Direct (~20%) vs. Indirect costs (~80%). Here are some examples:

Direct ~20%

  • Data integration for reporting and analysis
  • Data cleansing processes for reporting and analysis
  • Reporting and analytical data bases such as Data Warehouses, Data Marts
  • Reporting / querying / dashboards
  • OLAP (Online Analytical Processing)
  • Analytical MDM (Master Data Management)
  • Analytical metadata management
  • Data mining, predictive analytics
  • BI specific  SOA (Services Oriented Architecture) or other types of EAI (Enterprise Application Integration)
Read more

When ROLAP Is Not A ROLAP

I get many inquiries on the differences and pros and cons of MOLAP versus ROLAP architectures for analytics and BI. In the old days, the differences between MOLAP, DOLAP, HOLAP, and ROLAP were pretty clear. Today, given the modern scalability requirements, DOLAP has all but disappeared, and the lines between MOLAP, ROLAP, and HOLAP are getting murkier and murkier. Here are some of the reasons:

  • Some RDBMSes (Oracle, DB2, Microsoft) offer built-in OLAP engines, often eliminating a need to have a separate OLAP engine in BI tools.
  • Some of the DW-optimized DBMSes like Teradata, SybaseIQ, and Netezza partially eliminate the need for an OLAP engine with aggregate indexes, columnar architecture, or brute force table scans.
  • MOLAP engines like Microsoft SSAS and Oracle Essbase can do drill-throughs to detailed transactions.
  • Semantic layers like SAP BusinessObjects Universe have some OLAP-like functionality.
Read more

To BW Or Not To BW - 2011 Update

I get lots of questions from clients on whether they should consider (or continue to rely on) SAP BW for their data warehousing (DW) and business intelligence (BI) platform, tools, and applications. It’s a multidimensional (forgive the pun) decision. Jim Kobielus and I authored our original point of view on the subject soon after the SAP/BusinessObjects merger, so this is an updated view. In addition to what I’ll describe here, please also refer to all of the DW research by my colleague, Jim Kobielus.

First of all, split the evaluation and the decision into two parts: front end (BI) and back end (DW).

  • Back end – DW
    • Strengths:
      • Best for SAP-centric environments.
      • Agile tool that lets you control multiple layers (typically handled by different tools) such as ETL, DDL, metadata, SQL/MDX from a single administrative interface.
      • Unique BW accelerator appliance (via in-memory indexes).
Read more

Key Findings From Forrester's Latest Enterprise BI Maturity Survey (2010 Update)

Here's what the latest numbers from Forrester's 2010 enterprise BI maturity survey show.

  • Organizations that use BI show increased (+5.7% from 2009) levels of maturity. However, most of the respondents still rate themselves below average on Forrester's BI maturity scale: 2.75 (on a scale of 1-5) for overall maturity, with the following details:
    • 3.25 for governance and ownership.
    • 2.81 for organizational structures.
    • 2.65 for BI processes.
    • 2.82 for data and technology.
    • 2.34 for measurement and adjustment.
    • 2.07 for innovation.
  • A few aspects of BI, mainly platforms and tools, mature, while . . .
  • . . . most aspects of BI such as processes, architectures, and measurements of BI efficiency and effectiveness lag behind.
  • And (drum roll, please) the most interesting, and, I am sure, controversial finding is that Forrester’s predicted trend that Agile BI and BI self-service will trump centralization and consolidation has been confirmed. Here's the proof:
    • In 2010, 59% of the respondents said that they do not have a centralized BI competency solutions center, versus . . .
    •  . . . only 36% in 2009
Read more

Proposed Themes For BI Trends 2011 Research Document

Forrester's recent report on Top 15 Technologies To Watch In 2011 once again proved that BI is front and center on everyone's agendas. We indeed continue to see unrelenting interest and ever-increasing adoption levels of BI platforms, applications, and processes. But while BI maturity in enterprises continues to grow, and BI tools become more function rich and robust, the promise of efficient and effective BI solutions remains quite challenging at best, and elusive at worst. Why? Two main reasons. BI is all about best practices and lessons learned, which only come with years of experience. Additionally, traditional BI technologies (ETL, data warehousing, reporting, OLAP) have not kept pace with the ever-changing business and regulatory requirements. In a work-in-progress research document, building on a last year's relevant blog post on next-gen BI, we plan to review top best practices and next- generation BI technologies for our clients to watch and adopt in 2011 to improve their chances to deliver successful BI initiatives. Here's the proposed document outline and major themes:

BEST PRACTICES TO ADOPT IN 2011

  • Emphasis on business ownership and data governance 
  • Combining top-down performance management, with bottom-up approaches 
  • Emphasis on change management
Read more

The Cognos 10 Launch And My Key Takeaways From IBM IOD

I don’t know when, but at some point in the not too distant future, the world of enterprise software and applications will become simpler. We will only have four to six vendors and platforms to choose from, as compared to the hundreds of options we have today. I know many of you will argue with me on this point, but if you consider the speed at which IBM, SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft are acquiring software companies, that’s just inevitable. While this future state may not happen for another 10 years, when it does, IBM will most likely be best positioned (with Oracle a close runner-up) to provide that one-stop shopping for everything from hardware to desktop applications to consulting services (the only big missing piece is ERP, and therefore I am convinced IBM will sooner or later acquire an ERP vendor).

This is precisely my key takeaway from IBM's IOD event in Vegas (#iodgc) — a sheer breadth of IBM software and services offering. Front and center of the announcements made at the IOD was the launch of Cognos 10. Here are my key takeaways from this new major release. As always, there's some good news and some not-so-good news (but then our lives and BI jobs will become too boring, right?)

I like:

Read more

Results Of Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms, Q4 2010

As I was doing research for our Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms, Q4 2010, I couldn’t help but remember a dear old friend of mine, who was/is one of the nicest and smartest people, but often a bit naïve and too idealistic. At one point when we were watching the Olympic Games on TV, she shed a tear and asked, “Why can’t they all win?” Unlike the Olympic Games, though, it’s good news all around for all of the vendors covered in our latest evaluation. Here’s it is in a nutshell.

In Forrester's 145-criteria evaluation of enterprise business intelligence (BI) platform vendors, we found that IBM Cognos, SAP BusinessObjects, Oracle, Information Builders, SAS, Microsoft, and MicroStrategy led the pack because of completeness of not just BI, but overall information management functionality. Actuate came out as a Strong Performer on the heels of the Leaders offering equal — or in some cases superior — BI functionality, but it mostly relies on partners for the rest of its information management capabilities. TIBCO Spotfire also came out as a Strong Performer offering top choices for analytics, even surpassing other Strong Performers in the overall information management arena based on its traditional strength in middleware and application integration. Last but not least, QlikTech and Panorama Software moved up from Contenders and into the Strong Performers category based on the continuous improvements in their analytical capabilities.

Our evaluation uncovered a market in which:

  • IBM Cognos, SAP BusinessObjects, Oracle, and SAS continue to lead the pack.
  • Information Builders, Microsoft, and MicroStrategy move into the Leaders category.
Read more

Not All In-Memory Analytics Tools Are Created Equal

I get many questions from clients interested in evaluating different in-memory technologies. My first advice is not to mix apples and oranges and clearly understand the differences between in-memory indexes, in-memory OLAP, in-memory ROLAP, in-memory spreadsheets, and other approaches. See more details in my recent blog entry "I forget: what's in-memory?" to understand the differences. Then once you zero in on a particular segment, you can indeed do an apples-to-apples comparison. Let's say we pick the category of in-memory associative indexes, which would include Microsoft PowerPivot, QlikTech, and TIBCO Spotfire. We also sometimes run across Advizor Solutions, but typically in smaller clients (and we do not include them in The Forrester Wave™ process). I recommend a three-step approach to compare these four tools:

  1. First, compare all of the commodity features of the vendors and tools like data integration and portal integration, operational features like administration, security, and others. You can leverage the detailed evaluation behind our slightly outdated 2008 BI Forrester Wave, if you are in a hurry, or you can wait for another month or so and the 2010 update will be published (it's in the last stages of editing at this point). Or if you are a Forrester IT client — not a vendor — client, send me a note and I'll share a draft preview with you.
Read more

Results Of The Forrester Wave™: Open Source Business Intelligence (BI), Q3 2010

Open source software (OSS) and business intelligence (BI) are two related market segments where Forrester sees continually increasing interest and adoption levels. BI specifically continues to be one of the top priorities on everyone's mind. The main reason? Enterprises that do not squeeze the last ounce of information out of their data stores and applications, and do not focus on getting strategic, tactical, and operational insight into their customers, products, and operations, risk falling behind competition. And when it comes to open source, 2009 could best be described as "the year IT professionals realized that open source runs their business." The reason is simple: Over the past few years, we've seen that developers adopt open source products tactically without the explicit approval of their managers. This has shown up in numerous surveys where the actual adoption of open source ranks higher than what IT managers report. Well no longer: Forrester's Enterprise And SMB Software Survey, North America And Europe, Q4 2009 shows that management has caught on to the fact that developers increasingly use open source to run key parts of their IT infrastructure. And management has grown increasingly comfortable with it. In fact, throughout 2009, most client inquiries Forrester received regarding open source were focused on how to move from tactical adoption to strategic exploitation.

Yet, when you put the 2 and 2 together (OSS and BI), you mostly get a mixed market, where one unfortunately has to compare apples to oranges. Why? Before plunging into a tool evaluation and selection process, ask yourself the following questions, and make sure you are doing a like-to-like comparison:

Read more

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
Read more