Business Intelligence Crowd Appeal

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We sometimes think of the "wisdom of crowds" as a big sample of people who come to a consensus of agreement about something, like those throngs we see marching down streets on TV. Most crowds, on the other hand, have more nuance than that, like at the ballpark where opinions can diverge sharply once you get past the love of the game.

That's the way I'm looking at Howard Dresner's latest Wisdom of Crowds BI Market Survey, which I promised to give a shout out to before it ends this week. If you get a chance, take the survey and help what seems to be a good crowd effort to help get a better look at what BI is considered these days and how people are putting it to use.

If it's not complete or entirely scientific, it only takes 10 minutes or so to complete and should yield some interesting dimensions to measure. Dresner launched a similar effort last year, but this one looks into role and departmental use, strategic versus tactical use and delivery models from license to SaaS to professional services. It also splits open source between community and commercial editions.

The results may not be definitive but ought to be interesting since there's so much buzz and momentum around SaaS, new vendors and new approaches to market that seem closer to adoption or finding early use. I have no doubt some of these solutions are being pitched directly to sales or financial managers without much regard for IT. There are also the many distinctions between front end and ETL and OLAP and the rest.

"We are testing things like big data but most of it is focused on the analytical and user experience as opposed to infrastructure," Howard tells me. "The sense is that there are now a lot of alternatives to the traditional approach to data quality and ETL and data warehousing."

Really, he says, what organizations are looking for is to have the quality associated with the data – but not the pain of getting there. What's obvious about that simple deduction is that it's plainly true.

While the models of standardized data and traditional data analysis are proven and entrenched, they will be challenged, Dresner says, rapidly or at a glacial pace, depending on the degree of time and urgency (and what you're expecting to achieve).  

"There are vendors out there with predigested schema and models and certainly that still has merit. In the end, companies that have their act together and know their data well will be able to do things those guys won't be able to do. It's sort of the 80-20 rule."

But they are absolutely selling as directly to the business side as they are able, because that's where the budget is going, we agree. "Last year we found that BI deployments are increasingly moving to the user," Dresner says. "The budget is still predominately going to IT but increasingly, sales, R&D, finance, all those guys are weighing in."


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