BI's Corporate Challenge

I recently completed a blog post on the Microsoft CIO Network on Business Intelligence and the challenges of implementing within an organization. Enjoy! Ease of access is an important consideration as data, information and insights are the drivers behind business decision-making. Many firms have continued to invest in business intelligence technology enablers - especially during the economic challenges over the last 12 months - as insights are becoming more and more important in driving strategic and operational business decisions. Many BI tools offer solid user interfaces, but the key to successful access is educating the business user on how to make sense of large volumes of data, how to manipulate the data to answer business scenario questions, and how to create documents to communicate insights in a meaningful way.

There is no doubt that most companies have moved out of the 'request report from IT' mode to self-service business intelligence. The entry cost for BI is relatively low, especially when considering the business intelligence software solution landscape. Some more complex BI solutions still command high per-seat user costs but many niche players are able to implement and provide insights in weeks depending on the size of the data warehouse/data mart. Companies that fail to invest in BI will be left behind by the competition, who are using insights for planning and execution purposes.

There are several reasons why companies fail to invest or draw out decisions to invest. First is business readiness. The business must 'own' the solution, and for many companies, IT finds itself leading business intelligence projects and therefore, success rate is not high. The second barrier is the initial costs of deploying a performance management environment. Depending on the size of the business user base, and master data set, the cost to deploy an enterprise-wide BI solution can be high. In the current economic environment, capital is not readily available, and therefore many BI projects are delayed. The third obstacle is existing infrastructure. Many companies have made significant investments in technologies and architecture to support outdated systems. Change comes with a price and may require other complementary system changes.