Friday, October 24, 2008

Gartner to CIOs: Beware these 'fatal' business intelligence flaws

Search Data Management published yesterday an article entitled Gartner to CIOs: Beware these 'fatal' business intelligence flaws, by Jeff Kelly. The article is a phone interview with Bill Hostmann, Gartner's VP Distinguished Analyst, when he was at the Gartner Symposium last week. He talks about this year's list of fatal business intelligence (BI) flaws.

Bill Hostmann made several interesting comments:
"There's a whole new crop of recruits coming into BI" and "a lot of my contacts are with CIOs that have done BI in the past but have done it in very one-off ways".

CEOs are increasingly expecting enterprise-wide -- versus departmental -- BI deployments to help improve strategic and operational decisions. That means CIOs, rather than line-of-business managers, are now in charge.

"It's pretty typical as an organization moves through [BI] maturity, they're going to have failures," Hostmann said. "You're going to have learning mistakes. You may fall into them, but that doesn't mean you want to stop your BI initiative. That's not an option."

One of the most common flaws when deploying BI enterprise-wide, is IT embarking on the BI initiative without enough input from the business. The result is often a first-rate BI system that nobody uses because "its business value" hasn't been communicated to the rest of the organization.

Similarly, too many organizations fail to set out a comprehensive BI strategy – identifying how BI is expected to improve business operations and, ultimately, the bottom line -- before setting out with an implementation.

He said that the solution for both mistakes is for companies to create BI competency centers (BICC).

Poor data quality and a lack of common data definitions are two more potentially fatal flaws. In this case, he said: "You have to go back to the source systems to fix [data quality] problems, and nobody wants to do that".

He explains that too many people "mess around with [BI] calculations" when the results are not what they expected or contradict long-held beliefs.

To help do so, key performance indicators, business rules and analytics calculations should be embedded at the system level.That way, managers have less opportunity to manipulate the data.

Keep your options open When choosing a BI system for an enterprise-wide deployment, Hostmann said, it is important to evaluate vendors, both large and small, to find the best fit for your organization.

He finishes: CIOs must prepare themselves and the rest of the organization for change. Rigidity and BI is simply not a winning combination. "BI applications are going to evolve because the business is going to change," he said. "The kind of information and analysis that people do is going to change. So you have to have people's expectations set that this is going to take a while."

This is a very interesting article, in my opinion Bill Hostmann gave several good advices about how beware when you are developing or evolving a business intelligence initiative.

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