October 9, 2013

BI, a gold mine or a swamp? (part 1)

BY :     October 9, 2013

An IT strategist and Enterprise Architects reflection..

PART 1 – The Swamp

I have been working more deeply in the field of Business Intelligence for some months now and I came to a conclusion, which I had just been sensing before: Business Intelligence tragically lives its own life!

BIDevelopers
Two traditional BI developers trying to find the data for a requested report

How come? There are of course reasons, many from the nature of BI, but it’s still very surprising that organizations, small as large, don’t handle their BI business as the highly important asset it should be. I used to say that IT in general lives in its own bubble. In many cases BI lives in its own bubble within the IT bubble. Hm, 1+1=3, the total gets even worse.

My diagnostics of the area are actually nothing new or unique. They can be read on the internet, and they are surprisingly unified regardless of industry and organisation. As a strategist and Enterprise Architect, I especially react on the following:

  • Despite its enterprise nature, BI lives outside Enterprise Architecture
  • Despite its dedicated BI purpose, the BI platforms become application platforms
  • Despite its strategic nature, BI is lacking strategies
  • Despite of it specific nature and high business value, BI developments are either done without structured methodology, or with methodologies not really intended for the case of BI
  • Despite the urgent needs for enterprise master data solutions, Master data is implemented isolated in the BI solution, just for the sake of cleaning data, not for any other purpose
  • Despite its well-structured original business, the business doesn’t add any structure to the BI development processes

The result of all this is usually a very complex environment, with all that comes from this situation:

  • Further development and changes taking longer than they should
  • Too much dependency on individuals
  • Unforeseen risks with changes
  • High operations and maintenance cost
  • Business disconnected from steering and control
  • ..

The list can be made long, but I think you get it.

It is very hard for many organisations to get out of the “swamp” made of diversified and poorly structured information management assets.

So, what can we do about it?

Transform mindset

TransformMindsetFirst of all, the mindset of the scope of BI has to be transformed; from Business Intelligence to Business Information. To not just look at datawarehouses fed by poor ETL procedures and all reports that can be made out of it – to instead look at a unified information context with traditional BI, new style BI, Meta Data Management, Business Process Monitoring, Document Output Management and Integration of all styles. Think about it. It is almost the same competence used in all these aspects of information management, and in many cases the swamp of all different products used can be considerably cleaned up.

.. to be continued ..

Per Björkegren

About

Per Björkegren is an Enterprise Architect and IT strategist in Sweden. He has worked within Capgemini Group since 1991 and is the practice leader for Enterprise Architecture and IT Governance within Sogeti Sweden, developing the service offerings and speaking at open seminars. He is also the founder and president of SWEAN (Swedish Enterprise Architecture Network), which currently has close to 1000 members.

More on Per Björkegren.

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    *Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Sogeti Group