Ann All spoke with Howard Dresner, founder and president of Dresner Advisory Services, about his recently published Wisdom of the Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study. The survey, an update of one Dresner administered last year, found a continuing shift in how organizations are procuring and using BI.
All: The trends in your survey point toward more departmental deployments of BI. Do you think organizations are less likely now to take a platform approach? Or do they supplement a dominant platform with added BI tools?
Dresner: I think the latter is the case. In the larger organizations you would likely find a standard platform. But if the users have the discretionary dollars and the wherewithal to go out and buy what they want, they will do so. They may or may not use it in conjunction with the established platform, extracting data from that and loading their own tool. In smaller organizations, you're not going to find a platform. It will be very driven by users, because there might not even be an IT organization or a very modest one. We've seen an increase in the number of tools in organizations, and I think that's why.
More Wisdom of BI Crowds
Insights from the latest Dresner Advisory Services business intelligence report.
All: You share an anecdote in the survey about two respondents from the same organization who each said their tool was the only one in use. That seems to suggest many users don't pay much attention to what is going on in their organizations outside their own departments. Isn't this a problem?
Dresner: When you look at folks buying technology from the Emerging category, they were the least likely to know whether there were other tools in place. I think by and large it's because the Emerging vendors are adopted largely by business users. As a result, they may not have even researched whether there is a platform or what other people are using. It's parochial and opportunistic and meant to solve their particular problem.
There is good news and bad news. The good news is, the time to action is far greater. The bad news is, there are no consistent semantics, no consistent view. It's OK to have multiple end-user tools. Not all end users are the same. However, it would be nice to have common definitions and semantics and data quality, so that hopefully we get at least similar answers to business answers across the enterprise as opposed to very different ones.
We've lived through this before. I am hoping it is somewhat cyclical, and we come back to the center at some point.
All: How does IT's role change in this kind of a BI environment?
Dresner: IT isn't going to be able to enforce the tools anymore, but they do have the responsibility and the charter to ensure the infrastructure is consistent. That means they will really have to align with the end users. The best case studies out there are where IT has become more savvy about the business. It sounds simple, but it's really hard.