In this column, we have been talking about BI: the strategic impact of BI, the necessity for BI and how BI would drive the success of an organization, and we will continue emphasizing these areas as new technologies and ideas emerge in the business world. As with any promising concept such as BI, there is the expectation that this will be the killer app to solve all the problems, and the question is always, "How?" How do you implement BI? Is it a set of data marts connected through conformed dimensions? Is it creating a set of reports that allows users to dynamically navigate through their decisions? Is it ensuring data quality? The questions go on and on. The answer is all of the above. You have to build all these critical components to enable BI. Then the question becomes, "How much of this can we do with a limited budget?" The answer to this question is rather philosophical.

We have trained our IT managers in the past to be goal oriented and driven by project success. We find ourselves a project, add up the numbers and manage the resources. If we need vendors, we evaluate them and manage them. We set up server racks and network connections. All that sounds great, but there is one difference here: BI is not an IT project. Organizations can’t simply go out; purchase a database, an ETL tool and an OLAP tool; hire the resources; and assume that they have BI. In fact, if they do, I’d be very interested in seeing the ROI justification.

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