Four out of every five real-time business intelligence solutions online today are successful, according to a new study released by TDWI entitled: “Building the Real-Time Enterprise.” The study's survey included responses from 846 BI professionals, 108 of whom (13 percent) said they had implemented a real-time BI solution. Of those, 38 percent dubbed theirs as highly successful, while another 42 percent reported fair success.
"Real-time business intelligence is still relatively new," notes Wayne Eckerson, research director for TDWI. "In light of that fact, a success rate of 80% is remarkable. The clear indication is that real-time BI has arrived and its prominence in corporate decision-making will only grow from here."
But what is real time, really? Report author Colin White, a TDWI Fellow and president of BI Research, explains: "The term 'real-time' has become synonymous with an organization's ability to become more agile, more responsive to changing circumstances. However, there is still widespread confusion about exactly what constitutes 'real-time' BI. Depending on business needs, the action-time requirements can vary from seconds to hours. A practical definition for real time is: 'the ability for an organization to react to business needs and changing business circumstances within a single day.'"
While the benefits of intra-day responsiveness can be significant, the study points out that decision-makers must balance that ROI against the incremental IT costs associated with real-time projects. The technology infrastructure required for such solutions is typically more complex and demanding than traditional enterprise systems, often requiring different skill- sets and significant investment. Because the real-time field is new and rapidly evolving, the study recommends that real-time infrastructures be designed with flexibility in order to provide scalability, performance and availability.
Perhaps most importantly, says White, is that real-time processing is just one component of real-time decision making. BI teams must understand that ROI will also depend heavily on the ability of an organization to modify its business practices to take advantage of improved responsiveness in the IT system.
The TDWI study also provides a detailed description of each stage involved in building a real-time business intelligence infrastructure. Topics covered include collecting operational data, what to consider when building a low- latency data store, how and where to store such data, building versus buying, business activity monitoring, business process management, real-time predictive analysis and other related topics.
The report offers a section on key success factors. One fundamental key to success, says White, is that companies must focus on the right time, not just real-time. "Not all real-time BI applications require latency of just a few seconds. Latency of minutes or even hours may be adequate. Regardless, a clear business case and ROI must be established."
The survey was conducted in July 2003. Of the 846 respondents, in addition to the 13 percent who had deployed real-time projects, another 37 percent were planning to deploy real-time projects; the other half were not sure or had no plans to deploy a real-time project. Of the 313 people planning to deploy, 56 percent planned to deploy within 12 months.
The largest portion of qualified survey respondents (49 percent) were corporate IT professionals. The remainder were independent consultants (26 percent), business users/sponsors (19 percent), vendors (3 percent) or professors and students (3 percent). One-third of respondents (36 percent) work at companies with annual revenues less than $100 million, while almost half (48 percent) work for companies with between $100 million and $10 billion in revenue. Two-thirds of respondents (64 percent) are based in North America.
Visit http://www.tdwi.org/display.asp?id=6841 to download the report.
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