Feb 21, 2010

Gartner newsflash - 1,527 CIO's relegate BI as their #5 priority for 2010

 Even as we continue our research for defining an actionable roadmap the confidence of CIO’s in BI has shifted due to the lack of a proper methodology. The BI confidence is once again back to its August 2008 mark= #5. It was a brief trough but maybe a glimpse of things to come but no one had listened..

After the release of this priority we spoke to fourteen CIO’s with a question ‘Does this indicate that for 2010 reports and analytics are not an important priority for IT?.

Their universal response can be summarized into 3 components:-
1. That BI remains an extremely high priority with every enterprise,

2. There is a total confusion in BI product offering & consolidation with every major player from Oracle + Microstrategy, SAP BW or Business Objects, IBM Cognos or Ascential, the list goes on.. The confusion is systemic and endemic to a point to that has driven decision makers to the current non-decision. The CIO’s have rightly decided to let the technology confusion subside and also let the strategic roadmaps clarify. The vendor offerings continue unabated with still more technology (my book deals with defining the BVA, business value attainment, roadmap - improve the past and the future will align automatically)

3. While technology is thundering at ‘full-speed-ahead’ CIO’s of small, medium and big companies are worried that no one seems to be concerned with resolving the core issues of the matter – that only 55% of BI implementations succeed, and what if the endemic issue is actually worse than that. There is a universal feeling that there is lack commitment, or a lack of a reliable / proven roadmap, from the triad partners (SW, HW and Implementing partners), i.e. a clear roadmap that is consistent, reliable and assured to meet business expectations.
Opinion: I must include that this comment may be biased due to my BI background however it deserves a passing thought.  From a BVA, Business Value Attainment analysis ‘virtualization’ and ‘cloud computing’ are new concepts with unclear BVA deliverables as of yet. Clouds and virtual wares simply add more servers for delivering the same services and apply extremely well in very large, unpredictable, data and access scenarios like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter. However, its relevance in a business background is still unfounded. Both VM wares and clouds allow automatic server re-assignments and works well with companies with a few Exabyte’s of distributed requirements where sharing, usage or consumptions remain highly unpredictable, i.e. an accident in the Winter Olympics can spike system access from a few million to a few billion within minutes. In such a situation the VM servers in Sao Paolo or Istanbul, or Mumbai, or Singapore, or taiwan, etc.. will automatically start picking the excess loads of US and Europe transparently without the North American service crashing. In 99% of the enterprise environments performance and concurrent users are highly predictable attributes. Business Case: I have been recently informed of a BI implementation in Asia that is moving from their standard BI production servers to VM ware. Due to VM being a nascent technology in ERP BI, the VM vendors have recommended the company move from a current 4 server cluster to a 32 server cluster. They have also added that due to the nascent concept of VM ware on PROD the customer must keep all the 32 servers dedicated to BI only. This recommendation defeats the fundamentals of VM and cloud computing, but I will not try to figure this one out. I bring this up as - according to the principles of BVA we must first define the Business Value see how an investment improves our product or services. We can only wait and see.

Leo the CFO of a large global enterprise responded, “In the last five years we have invested over $13 million into BI investments and are still trying to find an elated business user. The prospects are all there..” Leo continued, “The technology has the potential to deliver but I don’t think the standards and process are mature enough to assure success. Maybe we’ll wait till someone comes back with an 80% assurance and an 80% user satisfaction and we can reinvest in BI again..” Before he closed the conversation he finished with, “ I just got an email from a colleague of this huge BI implementation in Chile that has seemingly has gone all wrong. This is not right for business, executives or BI on the whole. I think we need to wait and see..”
Dennis the CIO of another company responded “I am totally confused with all these multiple BI options. You tell me" he asked me directly, " would you invest a few million dollars in Oracle or Microstrategy, BW or Business Objects, Cognos or Ascential- fully knowing that these products are all in a state of acquisition flux. I’m going to wait till the big guys stabilize and consolidate the product strategy and this time around they need give me an actionable roadmap with a higher that 55% success probability.”
These responses lead us to assume that taking BI from its #1 priority to #5 is both logical and possibly a temporary hesitation as CIO’s find more resistance to invest into risky methodologies that are not assured to meet business expectations.
There are two keys to this issue.
[1] Higher assurances, standards, processes and methodologies need to be defined that demonstrate an actionable ROI than what they are facing today. (BI Valuenomics fundamentals)
[2] Super fast product consolitions by the SW vendors with a 'one-path', transparent, solution moving  forward
The market has a feeling that ‘no one is right if everyone is wrong’ and; "Without business in BI, Business Intelligence is dead'. The writing is clear - defining the ‘Missing Link’ in BI, i.e. meeting business expectation with current assets, and future promissory notes, is now truly priority # 1.  For BI teams this must become the short and long-term goal for every solution proposed
If the foundations are weak then no amount of technology can resolve the issues.
BI partners, vendors and service providers have a potential to harvest the support of business in the near, or distant future, depending on the path they decide to take this coming Monday

Feb 14, 2010

Two Books One Single Goal - Meet Business Expectations in BI

The BI Valuenomics has morphed into two books.
Book 1 'BI Valuenomics - the Story of Business Intelligence Business Success'
is due for release in April 2010 and is designed as a light read for CxO and Business Stakeholders.  The book has absolutely no technical content, is narrative and full of examples, case studies. It includes actual stories and examples, as a roadmap for senior executives, on key Success Decision factors

Book 2 'BI Valuenomics - A roadmap for SAP BI Business Success'
is planned for release three to four months after book one. Infact 80% of Book two is already written and is currently on hold. Book two contains specific examples of the SAP BW, BW Accelerator and the BO Explorer and highlights key success factors that can make  or break a SAP BI project and its business success.

Feb 7, 2010

Building your BI fertility clinic

 I got an email from a BI customer in Chile and he informed me he had read some of my papers and felt that their BI implementation was infertile. The company expected a healthy reporting environment but all they ended was with organizational pain.

I liked his choice of words and will elaborate it a little further. Fertility may be a good simile.
With a BI fertility clinic here is what you should get:-
General fertility information
• Professional Support to attain BVA
• 24/7 fertility analysis
• Automated fertility inspection and assurances
• Insurance Assistance

1. Creating a healthy family
The first rule of success is a healthy family. It is quite common to walk into a lunch meeting and find IT people huddled in one corner and business in small groups of their own. That is the first tell-tale sign that the two are not working together as one team. Try that in your next lunch or dinner meeting.
2. Getting the right advice
It is not necessary the highest paid doctor will always give the best advice. There are good doctors and then there are just doctors. It is critical to ensure you use your experts for what is their strength and not for any other purpose. Ask the experts for advice on what their strength is not for all the advice for all your ailments.
3. Infertility acceptance
It is rare for men, and seemingly rarer for organizations, to accept an infertile BI. Surprisingly according to statistics 98% of BI's are declared healthy and successful on week one after deliver, yet 45% of them are deemed a failure within eight to twelve weeks. Accepting something is wrong is the first step to correction and success. Else there is a strong possibility that one can continue to do the same things and hope for entirely different results.
4. Making Fertility treatments affordable
The secret to BI fertility is that it is not all expensive doctors, nor every expensive medicine is right an assurance to your BI success. It is just that the path you may have been following led you to this corridor and all you need to do is open the right door and come face to face with success in all its clarity. You dont have to pay millions of dollars to the same doctors that brought you to your knees in the first place. The solution may be simpler than you thought, you just did not know wher to look for it.
5. The opportunity of adoption
One does not have to reinvent the wheel every time from scratch. Architecture, modeling, Standards, principles, etc all are clearly established and proven in the area of BI. The only problem is who your doctor is and whether they actually want you to get a cure or continue to feed you medicines for the rest of your life. That is a decision you have to take after you see a vision of success and its simplicity.
6. Pinpointing success
Alex Paleologies, VP BI Value Attainment of Greek based BI DataBridge has talked to hundreds of companies during his 20 years assisting companies turn-around BI projects. He had now developed 'BOnTrak Kaizan workshops' as his self-help training sessions to team IT and business together towards a common goal.
7. Egg donation
According to the center of BI Disease control and Prevention, 45% of BI projects end up infertile, 98% of them found out twelve weeks after delivery. Automation in finding success and in remodeling delivered objects in an industry on the rise. "It is the logical next step in BI Optimization" Carla Simmons, CIO of UK Chemicals said. Alex routinely uses automation tools to model customers InfoCubes to eliminate any human arrogance or interpretations. He leaves behind a trail of fertile Information consumers. Gartner agrees with her views and calls it factory models. Gartner also confirms that a lot of BI projects end up infertile. They confirmed it in 2009 and will possibly do the same in 2010.

The question you have to ask yourself is "what's in your processes to fight BI infertility"

Feb 6, 2010

A CRISIS - Made in BI

For a lot of companies BI has become the proverbial ‘Tiger by the Tail’ in real life - this is what happens when good BI’s go bad. Can’t keep hanging on to it and can’t leave the tail lest the tiger devour us, professionally and financially.

In Japan there is a proverb, ‘If it stinks, put a lid on it’. Alas this seems to have become a norm in quite a few companies that implemented BI , saw a crisis approaching, denied announcing it for fear of stakeholder response, then proceeded to invest more finances into an investment already gone bad. This continues to be a professional nightmare and sometimes a public-relations nightmare should the facts ever become known outside the walls. So the companies continue to put more and more money into the investment sometimes without changing the fundamental processes, and at other times simply opting for a lower cost partner.

Both routes might lead to a path of predictable failure, if not disaster.

BI itself is another tiger by the tail. In the 'Information Age' companies will live and die based on the BVA score of their reporting and IDCM, Information Delivery Chain management, systems. Goldman Sachs and Intel are examples of companies that continue to invest into information as an asset while some companies continue to view this as an expense. Other have even decided to outsource their 'Crown Jewels' to the loswet cost offshore supplier. This is like going for a brain surgery with a scalpel made in India or China, nothing against either of these countries, infact I am from India and can thus publish this, but if it was for me to decide I would demand a scalpel that was only made in Switzerland.

This has led global BI thought leaders and knowlege workers on a quest of finding the 'Missing Link'. The missing link is the Business expectations from BI investments.
you can find a paper in
There is a better way. Follow good BVA, Business Value Attainment, processes from the start. Just like modern finance has the CAP, capital Appropriation Process, in BI there is the BVAP, Business Value Attainment Process. Both processes measure value attainment from before the tasks are planned or committed. Both allow prioritization of asset allocations towards projects and processes that deliver higher business value. The most common reason for failure is assumption.

Without a proper BVA process it is not surprising that BI’s have failed and may continue to fail in the future. We have found the solution to this dilemma, which has been tried and tested for the last 5 years. Customers that choose the BVA methodology got user satisfaction above 85%, others that did not, for various reasons, are still struggling with their own methodologies and processes.

For an assured path to high success wait for this book due in April, designed for business executives, reviewed by business executives and approved by business executives in the pre read comments.

Is BI success simply a matter of Time

There’s renewed interest if BI success is simply a matter of time based on the old adage ‘time cures all’.

The question: If a BI implementation does not deliver to business expectations what should one do?

We know the first solution is to prevent all projects from going bad but by global statistics that seems easier said than done.

In our current advent of the ‘Information Age’ we are like the early seafarers where more ships sunk due to lack of knowledge or planning. Prior to the 1500’s there were no atlases or global seafaring maps. Seafaring maps were documents created by hand and treasured documents held by captains and the nobility under whose finances the sea captains took to sea. It was the pringin press of the 1500’s that made it possible for captains like Christopher Columbus, and other captains, to try and find their routes to India around the cape of good hope or the planet.

Today a lot of BI investments seem to follow a 50% to 50% probability of reaching their destinations (according to Gartner) and we are not living in the dark ages.

Planning Phase: Returning to our core question the first option is not to fail. The motto of Fail to Plan = Plan to fail seems to be rather redundant as most companies spend considerable time in standard project management phases of (1) Submit a proposal, (2) Initiate a proposal and (3) Plan a proposal. This can take anywhere from a few week to a few month. Conclusion: here is that the planning is defective and from a BVA point of view two vital components are missing (a) Discover current state and (b) define business expectations. These tasks may be done but not adequately to assure BVA success.

Delivery Phase: Once the planning phase is approved, i.e. budget and time get required signatures every task goes into hyper drive and the focus is on meeting deliverables. Conclusion: By the time the project starts the only three components normally controlled are Budget, Time and Deliverables. An extremely important component is once again missing BVA

Testing & Release: During this phase most projects ban any discussion on area other than what is planned to be delivered, getting user signoffs (The legal hook) and delivering in accordance to contracts. Conclusion: Forget BVA now it is time to deliver

Go Live: Celebration time, honeymoon time. The investment has been consumed and due to the User Signoff the project is deemed a success. All parties shake hands and depart company. Conclusion: If not planned well collusion is imminent now you just have to foresee and wait for the impact

12-18 weeks later: 55% companies find they cannot use BW, or companies find that 50% of the delivered content is not useable. The destination has been reached. Either it is a sunny port in Hawaii with all the great places to visit and bask in the sunshine, or a reef of rocks where survival is the imminent thought. Conclusion: A good process should have seen this during the planning phase or soon thereafter

Time has been consumed, along with resources. Now spend is emergency funds and deficit accounting

Facts to remember:
1. Costs to repair, or fix, grow exponentially as we pass each phase gate, i.e. what could be fixed for $100 during planning phase, will cost 400 during Integration testing, and 1600 after UAT and possibly 6400 after go live.
2. Post go-live BVA attainment will cost considerable amounts to fix and time can and may not be the answer. Add to this the cost of business dissatisfaction, meetings, changes in partners, business decision costs, alternative reporting costs (for business must continue), etc
3. Final conclusion Time may be a solution if the next path is correct. If not then it may become a journey from one reef to another.

4. The key lies in two simple facts Business Ownership and accountability and BVA (Business Value Attainment). Find yourself a new captain not necessarily a new team.

Feb 3, 2010

Taking the leap from 'T' to 'I' in BI

For the last two decades BI has been dominated by the 'T' of IT and now the big shift is to bring back the 'I' of IT back into BI.
The biggest shift in 2010 -13 is the shift from T to I.
Information is not about IT, CIO or the CFO it is about information consumers.
IT is a verticle that specializes in technology and sometime sees a big chasm between themselves and business. IT sometimes looses sight of the I in their organization.
CIO's train to lead, come from a technology background and to them  IT and represents the technology view of all aspects of business.
CFO's are a highly educated professionals in profit, loss and balanse sheets thus needs monthly reports, that all our current solutions provide on time, cost and resources.

So what do we have at the end of this mixture.
98% of projects finsh on time, budget and resource estimates; but only 55% finish with business expectations.

It is time to shift the fabric of BI implementations from the T to I, from data to information and from impending failure to assured success