Business Intelligence is an After Thought

A quick note – HP buying Vertica is really interesting – they should have done it earlier and complimented the EDW approach of Neoview with an analytical capability. Could have been really powerful and now only time will tell whether they can make Vertica succeed or not – they can, but will they? Let’s wait and see

Now to other things –

No matter who says different it is clear to anyone with deep insight into this industry, my industry, the business Intelligence Industry, that we are going no where fast. The industry is led by vendors who drag their feet at every opportunity quite happy to be paid huge amounts for very little effort or innovation.

If we examine the human resources in any medium to large scale enterprise we will, in nearly every case, determine a pattern which on the face of it, seems quite natural but is certainly divisive and outdated. We will see various functions such as marketing, sales, operations, audit, production for example and the very odd thing is that all of these functions are grouped together and given a common name – ‘business’. These people in these departments are ‘business’ people.

Sitting alongside (or underneath) these ‘units’ lies another responsibility, another set of people and these are the chaps that run Information Technology. Now funnily enough, the IT chaps are not considered part of the ‘business’ at all – they are just some sort of slave function full of people (geeks) who like technology. So, today’s companies are managed by ‘business’ people who use  ‘IT’ people and services when they have to but never the twain shall meet.

Note:  Nearly all companies view their IT group as a cost centre. They are given money each year and their success is measured in part by how little of it they spend. Some motivation to become state of the art or even simple fit for purpose.

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About bibongo

I'm a consultant in the field of Business Intelligence and have been since the mid 80's which gives you some idea of my age! I'm priviledged to have held senior positions with Teradata, Oracle, Hp and EMC. I have an English son and a Swedish daughter seperated by some 18 years which is another type of welcome challenge!
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6 Responses to Business Intelligence is an After Thought

  1. 100% agreement with you about ‘IT and the business’. As you mention it is ‘divisive and outdated’.

    No other business function eg Finance, HR considers themselves separate to the rest business – so IT? Try using ‘IT and the rest of the business’ instead, and see the reaction it sometimes causes.

    IMHO many on both ‘sides’ are happy to continue with this way of thinking.

    For some in IT, it means they can continue to focus purely on technology rather than providing business value to their organisation.

    Whilst perhaps for others outside of IT – this false division enables IT to be used as a scapegoat and for them to continue to ignore business issues related to data management/governance.

    • bibongo says:

      I think you point out something that is very important that I have hitherto missed – many times both sides are more comfortable with the polarity. That will make it very difficult to remove – I have some ideas I’ll post soon

  2. Phil Bailey says:

    I completely agree too… how has this been allowed to happen so endemically?

    Finance and HR are usually classed as ‘Enabling Functions’ in many organisations…. but why is IS/IT not classed in the same way? If IT is not seen to be enabling a business then there’s not much hope for them in terms of innovating as you say Jon – doomed to be a cost-centre forever…

    • bibongo says:

      Pretty depressing future unless we (IT) do something about it. General IT probably can’t but if we can position BI correctly then maybe this is the vehicle we need. I think the way is to create a completely aligned BI stratagy and organisational capability and I’ll get onto these ideas soonish

  3. Pingback: IT and the rest of the business « Michael Baylon's blog

  4. marcothesane says:

    Hi bibongo
    If the Data Warehouse/BI program in an enterprise is not an integral part of the business, then the data warehouse built does not really deserve its name.
    If you say, somewhere else, that the way that we go about data warehouses has not changed very much in the last twenty years, well, that’s true. The wheel has also always been round since the day it was initially invented, and only the marketing specialists from Ship B of the Golgafrincham Ark Fleet found it essential to know what colour the wheel should be before it could be launched as a product.
    The basic principles around a data warehouse that I feel most comfortable with are still what Inmon and Kimball wrote about it.
    Their initial publications built the Atomic Data Warehouse (Inmon) and the Integrated Data Warehouse with Conformed Dimensions (Kimball) from the consolidated requirements of the Business (the think-global-start-local principle once put aside for argument’s sake). Consolidating here means finding an unambiguous model that satisfies as well as any possible each and every party in the enterprise with BI needs. On one hand, this takes someone who really understands what it is that makes and keeps a given company successful (and I don’t mean at the stock exchange) – and what information requirements come out of that. On the other hand, this takes someone who can put these information requirements into a complete and unambiguous shape – by filling gaps and dealing with ambiguity, and following the design principles proven so far that best suit these requirements. While the latter is what an IT person’s most important job is all about, the former is what someone capable of analysing the company’s business should bring to the table (and the fact that someone belongs to a company’s C level is no guarantee of these capabilities….). These two types of pre-requisite capabilities very rarely exist in the same head; so there were data warehousing methodologies in the nineties that suggested that two people, each with one of the two sets of capabilities, share a keyboard and a screen in a data warehousing project group.
    And, yes, that’s an expensive way of building a data warehouse. But then, to me, an “Enterprise Data Warehouse” is a pleonasm. To me, there can only be one. And building a Data Warehouse is like building a city. It takes architects and politicians; it never makes everybody completely happy; it is never finished unless it’s a ghost town; and you can’t keep building it all the time because from time to time, you have to be able to live in it. And you don’t buy a city that you want to live in, you build it.
    It’s already wrong in my (never too humble …) opinion to treat IT and Business separately – to me, a good IT professional developing an application is one who performs a business job in advance before someone (usually with lesser skills) needs the job to be done for a specific business event.
    For a Data Warehouse, mixing technology and business is essential, and the classical methodologies, which are still valid, have always said it’s a Business *and* IT discipline, and the BI program should not reside in the IT department.

    That’s my half Swiss franc …
    marcothesane

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