To say that most of the processes surrounding business intelligence are a little dysfunctional would be putting it mildly in most organizations. Not only are there multiple data sources that are often in conflict with each other, it’s not often clear who has responsibility for managing the BI process. Fact is, there’s usually an analyst on the business side and somebody in IT who would say they were both in charge of BI.
Stepping into the middle of this chaos is Quest Software, which today launched the Toad Business Intelligence Suite, which delivers a BI application on top of the Toad data integration tools that Quest acquired back in 1998.
Quest itself is now the subject of a pending acquisition by Dell. But before that deal closes, Quest is expanding its Toad franchises into the BI space. According to John Whittaker, senior manager for product marketing at Quest Software, the Quest approach to BI creates a level of metadata that not only makes it easier to manage the data sources involved, but also clearly defines roles for the people who provision BI data and the business experts who use it. As such, the Toad BI suite is built around three distinct modules: a metadata management framework called Toad Intelligence Central; a data integration and query management tool called Toad Data Point; and a set of tools for viewing and manipulating data called Toad Decision Point.
One of the core mission tenets of the Toad BI Suite, says Whittaker, is to reduce the rampant distribution of spreadsheet marts that wind up doing more to obfuscate the true state of the business than they do to provide actual business insight. That doesn’t necessarily mean that spreadsheets can’t be a valuable source of data, says Whittaker, but it does mean there is a need for a layer of software that helps bring some order to the current state of BI chaos.
In fact, it’s the lack of control over data and how it’s managed that limits the adoption of BI software more than any other factor. After all, if it’s not easy to access and analyze, then people will naturally default to creating their own data in a spreadsheet regardless of how duplicate, or even wrong, that data may be. Quest isn’t advocating that IT organizations try to change that ingrained behavior overnight. But it’s clear the addition of a metadata layer that makes it easier to access that data would be a significant step in the right direction.