We've been talking about the recurring reports of poor business intelligence execution dogging us for about as many years as we've been writing about it. And last week, we were looking at a Ventana Research report that held more of the same: most companies by far are still at the beginning stages of information competencies and 41 percent have a strong desire to improve.

Another thing we've seen are large monolithic projects under way, but a growing demand for lightweight collaborative or social apps pointed at information access, mobility, productivity etc. Ventana's survey (driven in good part by you, our readers) also found the business side of organizations pushing hard for just those kind of lightweight applications. Business really is tired of the long project cycle times associated with the BI and performance management apps we were writing mostly about a few years ago.

Could that disconnect be headed for a correction – based on budgeting shifting back to capital over operational expenditures in a recovery and business regathering the purse strings? I was talking to Ventana CEO Mark Smith about this.

Beyond user demand, it seems there is innovation coming out of vendors that will wind up on preferred personal devices like the iPhone or Droid or iPad.

"And then there are some vendors," Smith said, "who are saying 'our customers aren't asking for these things,' but that's because they or their customers are buried in the IT organization and not the front lines of business."

So, premise "A" is that if we do make the right iPhone app that embeds the power of legacy technology with the right front end, we'll finally reach the masses we've been waiting to adopt BI and performance management.

And, while we're all holding our breath, premise "B" is that, if the recovery persists and profits rebound and capital expenditure returns, business is going to know where it wants the big dollars to go and will take better charge of IT by virtue of being the organization's breadwinner.

Over the last decade, IT has pretty much taken the job of figuring out tech for the business and what it needs, and that still applies to transactional systems and secure infrastructure. But everybody else has also seen where the convenience and productivity in the consumer market has come from and will want to be investing in business tools of similar value.

"The capital expenditure aspect could be critical and a few organizations are taking the next generation application footprint for mobility because they just can't operate on legacy," Smith says. "There's merit there and dollars for that, but mostly the business is saying, 'you're not going to continue to use 95 percent of your dollars to keep the lights on.'"

The effect of this is going to vary widely by need and by the age and culture of your organization of course. I'm still mulling the quote from Mark Smith about dysfunctional companies in our last chat. When it comes to marching orders, it really does boil down to "whom you want to please" at the moment.

Who's leading the discussion and who's getting the attention in your organization? 

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