Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why BI Doesn't Work

Doug Henschen, the editor in chief at, recently posted the results of a BI survey asking 385 technology professionals about the barriers to their success with BI software. You can read about this in his September 2008 In Depth / State of BI article titled, "Business Intelligence Gets Smarter."

Here are the rankings of BI barriers, from highest to lowest:
  1. Complexity of BI tools and interfaces
  2. Cost of BI software and per-user licenses
  3. Difficulty accessing relevant, timely, or reliable data
  4. Insufficient IT staffing or excessive software requirements for IT support
  5. Difficulty identifying applications or decisions that can be supported by BI
  6. Lack of appropriate BI technical expertise within IT
  7. Lack of support from executives or business management
  8. Poor planning or management of BI programs
  9. Lack of BI technology standards and best practices
  10. Lack of training for end users

The IT individuals in the study place most of the blame on the BI vendors and then point to their organization's data as the next big reason for problems. Their remaining 7 reasons are internal issues that prevent BI from being used successfully.

Their message is that the BI software itself is too hard to use and too expensive. Within the company, the IT group and the business users do not have the proper training nor are there adequate resources. To make matters worse, upper management either is not taking the BI initiatives seriously or they do not understand the amount of work involved.

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About Me

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I am a project-based consultant, helping data-intensive firms use agile methods and automation tools to replace legacy reporting and bring in modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics. For several world-class vendors, I led services teams specializing in providing software implementation and custom application development. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven methodologies and automated software tools.

During twenty years of technical consulting, I have been blessed to work with smart people from some of the world's most respected organizations, including: FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.

I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, graduating summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders, the vendor of WebFOCUS BI and iWay enterprise integration products, and for over a dozen years served in branch leadership roles. For several years, I also led technical teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the custom software services arm of Xerox.

Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting.