Harnessing the Wisdom of Business Intelligence
Valuable insight into BI usage and products currently in the market.
The debate between the merits of spreadsheets and business intelligence tools now stretches back at least two decades. But with the release this week of a personal edition of IBM Cognos BI software that is priced at $500, the amount of time that users spend looking at a spreadsheet versus a BI application may begin to shift more to the latter.
It's unlikely that spreadsheets will ever go away. They are too engrained in our business culture. But using spreadsheets to store numbers and perform calculations is one thing. Visualizing that data using a BI tool is a totally separate experience. And truth be told, more business people can better understand a graph or some other visual aid inside a BI application than they can cells in a spreadsheet.
According to Dan Potter, product executive for personal and workgroup solutions within the IBM Business Analytics group, the new IBM Cognos Insight offering is designed to give business users the freedom to analyze results without having to be dependent on someone else to model data for them. All they have to do, says Potter, is import a spreadsheet into IBM Cognos Insight and all the data becomes instantly more accessible. That's critical, says Potter, because it affords business users the ability to discover data without having to ask an analyst to model the data for them.
At a time when analysts are in relatively short supply, BI tools that make analytics more accessible to the average business user might be warmly received because they should in theory allow analysts at all levels to spend less time modeling data and more time analyzing it.
At the same time, many IT organizations have been trying to bridge the divide between enterprise-class BI offerings and personal BI applications for years. Potter says that IBM Cognos Insight is part of a continuum of IBM Cognos BI products that now span the desktop, workgroups and the enterprise. Personal editions of BI tools, adds Potter, should also be viewed as the "last mile" of Big Data in that it is generally thought that these applications are sources of Big Data that will actually become accessible to the average end user.
It's pretty clear that analytics technologies are increasingly being adopted across all levels of the enterprise. But unless IT organizations find ways to put those tools into the hands of the people who make the business decisions, the pretty graphics won't make much of a difference.