One of the most hallowed traditions of business intelligence (BI) projects is the vendor/tool bake-off. Vendors are gathered, demonstrations are conducted, endless meetings are held to discuss the merits and shortcomings of each candidate, more rounds of demonstrations are performed, tests are executed and finally two or three finalists emerge. These survivors are pitted against each other in a bake-off that often resembles televised wrestling in volume, ethics and head-banging action.

Information technology (IT) teams seem as addicted to these bake-offs as preteen boys are to their knee-dropping, neck- locking wrestling matches. One of our clients recently remarked that bake-offs feed IT teams' needs for analysis and empirical criteria. I agree, and I also think they feed a need for staying on the bleeding edge of technology and providing the ultimate protection against later recriminations regarding the selected tool. Not only that, some IT team members really enjoy the lavish and undying attention paid to them by the vendor sales force during the sales, demonstration and bake-off process.

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