Daily Archives: March 19, 2008

Making BI Available to Everyone

A recent article in Information Week on The Road to Making BI Available to Everyone noted that, on average, only 25% of workers use BI. Considering that we’re in the information age, this is rather pathetic. Why is this?

According to the article, there are five major reasons for this:

  • The tools themselves … as most of them are not very usable
  • Company managers … that promote gut-feel decision making
  • Company cultures … that essentially promote information hoarding
  • Failure to convey the value … to business executives & decision makers
  • Lack of training … which promotes use of all-too-familiar Excel

Which are all-too-true, but I’d also add:

  • Cost … costs per user are often ridiculously high for many of today’s BI tools

So how can we change this? Good question. The author believes that several roads must converge before BI will get widespread adoption. Namely:

  • Businesses need to fully appreciate the data gold-mine
  • Vendors need to provide lower-cost ways to license and deploy BI
  • BI interfaces need to be upgraded to present data in a manner amenable to the user
  • BI tools need to be able to work on relevant data stores

These points are also correct, but what really needs to happen is:

  • The tools need to allow the user to build as many data cubes as they need, on as many data sources as they have available – as a stale data warehouse is not very useful to anyone
  • The tools need to be available on-demand – current tools overload IT resources and limit implementation
  • Users have to think outside-the-cube when it comes to recognizing what a BI tool is and how they can use it
       – and
  • Users have to understand that a few of today’s on-demand spend analysis tools can be used for more than just spend-analysis

For example, tools like BIQ can be used for more than just spend analysis. This post details how the tool was used to detect overspending, find fraudulent claims, determine when failed equipment under warranty is worth reclaiming, and detect questionable resource usage patterns. Plus, compared to traditional behind-the-firewall BI tools, they’re very affordable for massive deployments across your organization.

In other words, even though they’re not perfect, with their built-in ETL, cube generation, and pattern-based rules engine, they’re significantly more powerful than Access and Excel and would allow the vast majority of office workers who need BI to use BI today.