Its rare these days to find clients who havent already decided on a standard BI platform. Most of the new BI tool discussions we get into with clients are with companies whove decided that its time to broaden their horizons beyond Microsoft. The dirty little secret in most companies is that the BI reporting team has morphed into a de-facto enterprise reporting team. Why is this?
When it comes to reporting, theres a difference between the BI team and the rest of IT. The fact is that BI teams are successful not because of the infrastructure technologies, but because of the technologies in front of the users: the actual BI tool. To the end user, data visualization and access are much more important than database management and storage infrastructure. So when a new operational system is introduced, users expect the same functionality, look and feel as their other reports.
An insurance company were working with is replacing its operational systems. The companys management has already decided not to use the vendors reports theyre too limited and brittle. They expect these reports to dovetail into the companys information portal and work alongside their BI reporting. Companies are refreshing their operational platforms every seven to ten years. Its now 2009, and the last time they refreshed their operational systems was in reaction to Y2K. Its once again time to revisit those operational systems.
If you look at the challenges BI tool vendors are facing, there is limited growth in data warehousing. Most companies have standardized their BI tool suite. Absent disruptive technology or new functionality, theres limited growth opportunity for BI tools in the data warehousing space. But for every data warehouse or data mart within a company, there are likely dozens of operational systems that users need access to. The opportunity for BI vendors now is delivering operational information to business users. This isnt about complex analytics or advanced computation. This is the retrieval of operational information from where it lives.
Evan Levy's blog can also be found at http://baseline-consulting.typepad.com/evanlevy/.
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