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Executives that are new to the wonders of business intelligence products often wonder why their current IT systems and staff can't perform the same functions as those offered by BI vendors. The answer is simply that the diversity of data repository formats and standards require substantial development in order for current technology to be applied in a performance management setting.
Adapting legacy systems to be able to access all of the vast repositories found in today's enterprises would require “reinventing the wheel." Additionally, the required development effort, if attempted, would be far beyond the capability of even the most capable of IT departments. Cobbling together that magnitude a system in order to achieve a small level of performance management is simply too complex an undertaking and would not make economic sense.
The key to BI success lies in the ability for the executive/manager to link into the data through advanced query and reporting tools like dashboards and scorecards. These capabilities, with a scope beyond the norm, generate the impetus for the use of BI product modules for budgeting software that lead to enhanced decision-making.
Is size an issue for business intelligence implementation? The answer is not clear and obvious, yet a couple of thoughts on the subject bear consideration:
· One analyst estimates that companies using BI spend roughly 10 percent of their IT budget on BI. One view might be to evaluate your IT budget compared to the price of the BI capability you are shopping for. If 10 percent of your IT spending is less than that minimum BI cost, then don't invest.
· Another consideration is to look at what kind of business you are. If you are data intensive (e.g. retail or multi-site), then BI might be right for you at an earlier stage than if you are a manufacturer or service provider.
Business intelligence can be characterized as the software-based automation of a huge collection of best practices drawn from all corners of the business world. These techniques are differentiated from traditional data retrieval and manipulation in that they cut across all functional business areas and serve all potential users in the enterprise. If you are trying to decide whether to recommend that your company invest in a BI system, try a manual test run for one familiar business function.
After researching the various offerings of a number of BI vendors, apply the principles you've learned to a typical, everyday problem. If you zero in on a particularly knotty, yet common task set that significantly impacts your effectiveness, your manual data retrieval, manipulation, analysis, reporting and decision-making steps can produce a glimpse of why BI may be right for you and your business.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|