BI Standardization Is Slow to Happen in the Enterprise


We've been reading and hearing for some time now that many organizations want to consolidate their business intelligence tools to achieve more of a platform approach, with the aim of reducing management complexity and cost. It seemed logical that this trend would hasten after software giants like Oracle, SAP, IBM and Microsoft purchased BI pureplays in 2007. Yet as InformationWeek was reminded when it wrote an article on the consolidating industry, there are still plenty of other BI options out there.


And organizations still use diverse collections of BI tools, according to a recent Forrester Research survey in which more than one out of five respondents say their companies run at least a half-dozen BI tools. There are apparently lots of tech execs like Steve Hirsch, chief data officer at NYSE Euronext, who tells InfoWorld:

From SAS to Business Objects to Brio, we've got pretty much everything that's been released in the last five to 10 years.

Hirsch, who recently added data warehousing appliances from two different vendors, says he hopes to select a BI tool on which to standardize in the coming year. Is standardization so important? Some experts tout the advantages of working with BI pureplays. All the options can certainly get confusing, which is why resources like a TDWI article cited by IT Business Edge blogger Loraine Lawson are so valuable. It discusses how companies like SAP and IBM are integrating newly-purchased BI technologies into their existing offerings.


Some more interesting tidbits from the Forrester survey: Nearly 60 percent of respondents say they use BI, data warehousing and/or data integration tools across their enterprises. Just 27 percent of respondents say they are using BI to gain a major competitive edge.


Reinforcing the idea that many BI users are less than thrilled with the tools available to them, two-thirds of respondents say their end users find BI tools somewhat or very difficult to learn, and more than half of them say users often employ desktop tools such as spreadsheets to access information or reports. An interesting idea to avoid the latter problem, which I mentioned in a recent post, is to recruit "super users" and have them evangelize BI tools to their colleagues. Ninety-five percent of users create their own BI reports at Meredith Corp., a magazine publisher that used this approach.