Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Woods and Trees

Janet Kersnar writes a well balanced article which highlights some of the ways in which business intelligence has the potential to become more strategic, but sensibly also points out some of the barriers to this occurring. Certainly today most BI solutions deployed are within departmental silos, and it is difficult for most companies to get a true enterprise-wide view. The insight that an up-to-date, cross-departmental view of business performance can give may lead to dramatic benefits, so we see a renewed interest in deploying data warehouse and related technology to address this problem. Companies that are acquisitive have even greater difficulty than most, since each time they buy a company, it may take years for that company's systems and data to be fully integrated into the new corporation. Again, the latest business intelligence technologies and approaches can help here.

However, as the article rightly points out, it is easy to get carried away with the latest tools, and overlook the very real issues getting people to buy in to new systems. One of the case studies acknowledges that it is easy to go crazy with BI technology and end up with an unfathomable morass of data: "Our stores get ranked on well over 150 metrics on a daily basis.", which is clearly a recipee for inaction and confusion. All the modern technology in the world will not deliver benefit unless it is married to useful business metrics, and unless the business users of the information are fully engaged in the process.

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