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

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