Report: Separate BI Hype From Reality

Compliance continues to drive business intelligence, but users must get past hype

October 11, 2006

3 Min Read
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The increasingly tough compliance landscape may be driving a boom in Business Intelligence (BI) software, but IT managers should beware of vendor hype, according to the latest Heavy Reading Enterprise report. (See Enterprises Want More Intel.)

A slew of vendors, including CA, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and Sybase are touting BI products as a way for firms to operate more efficiently and become more competitive. The idea is that the software extracts data from various back-end systems and databases containing info on HR, financials, customers, and the like, which can then be sifted and searched. (See Vendors Fire Up Data Forensics, Kane County Consolidates, and IBM Extends Biz Intelligence.)

Additionally, compliance pressures, not to mention the recent hi-jinks at HP, have helped raise the profile of BI amongst users to new levels. (See Retention Rules Set to Change, Hurd to Speak on Leak Probe, Hurd Apologizes, Probe 'Disturbing', Drip, Drip, Drip, and HP's Hot Seat.) "If [HP] had applied some data mining tools, they may have been able to figure out the source of the leak without receiving all this negative publicity," says Michael Schiff, analyst at large for Heavy Reading Enterprise, and the report's author.

The report, Business Intelligence & Decision Support: User Perceptions & Trends, cuts through all the vendor spiel, and describes how firms are deploying BI software. "There is a lot of hype over certain features and capabilities, user requirements, and perceived leaders," explains Schiff.

The end result, according to Schiff, is that many BI deployments fail to meet end-user expectations. Data quality issues and a lack of well-defined metrics for measuring the effectiveness of BI, however, are also to blame.Despite these problems, organizations are nonetheless diving into BI. Half of the respondents to a survey conducted by Heavy Reading Enterprise, for example, plan to increase their budget for the technology over the next two years, while only a small fraction thought that it would decrease.

According to the report, ease of use is users' primary concern when deploying a BI product, although other critical factors include ROI, interoperability with other products, and the ability of IT staff to support the deployment.

"While organizations may once have strongly considered integrating "best-of-breed" products from different vendors, the benefits of deploying a single vendor's BI platform -- are worth considering," says Schiff. These, he explains, include the ability to quickly share metadata, ease of administration, and reduced training.

The analyst also urges users to consider the potential impact of BI software on their storage infrastructures. "As companies collect more and more data, they need more storage," he explains. "BI gives a better insight into what they need to keep and what they don't need to keep."

Ultimately, though, compliance remains the major driver behind the current boom in BI, something which vendors have already latched onto. "CFOs and CEOs must attest to the validity of their company's financials and risk significant penalties [and possible incarceration] if they sign off on falsehoods," says Schiff. "BI products help consolidate and report on an organization's financials.CIOs and IT managers have already voiced their concerns about getting their BI efforts off the ground. Specifically, users cited data availability challenges, getting other parts of the organization on board with BI, and security issues. (See Users Describe the Battle for BI.)

Products from the following vendors are profiled in the report:

  • Business Objects SA (Nasdaq:BOBJ)

  • CA Inc. (NYSE: CA)

  • Cognos Inc. (Nasdaq: COGN; Toronto: CSN)

  • Hyperion Solutions Corp.

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • MicroStrategy Inc.

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • SAP AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: SAP)

  • SAS Institute Inc.

  • Sybase Inc.

  • Teradata

    James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

    For additional information, to request a free executive summary of this report, or for more information about Heavy Reading Enterprise, please contact:

    Lee Salem

    Sales Director
    Heavy Reading Enterprise
    415-947-6144
    [email protected]0

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