Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Learn To Live With It - Multiple BI Tools

We all want 'em
We all got 'em
Well what do we do with 'em
                    -- From Jimmy Buffett's "Fruitcakes"

Ok, admit it.  In the heat of all the enterprise business intelligence hype, your enterprise has purchased and installed multiple BI platforms. Oracle, Jaspersoft, Microsoft, Indicee, Actuate, Microstrategy, WebFocus, Cognos, Tablue, QlickView, Tibco...the list of players and products goes on ad naseum.  And, despite the multiple tools, you're still having trouble keeping up with the BI workload.

Hey, don't get flustered.  We're all in the some boat.  And with good reason.  See, the BI industry has a secret.  I'll let you in on it. Shhhh, keep it down, we don't want this to get out.  The deal is....the perfect BI platform has yet to be built.  Each BI platform has strengths and weaknesses in both approach and features.  Odds are that you're dealing with multiple BI platforms because because your end users have needs that a single BI platform can't meet, at least not in a way that makes consolidation of BI platforms a solid value-add.

But what about standardization?  Doesn't that make the argument for consolidating by reducing maintenance costs and add value?  Well, it does...so long as all those user needs still get met in a relatively painless manner.  Yeah, I agree...not gonna happen.  Great for textbook theory, but it seems all those textbook authors never dealt with multiple business user personas.

So, what to do in this Frankenstein monster of multiple BI platforms?  Well, consolidation is still a good idea.  But do it at the BI level rather than ripping and replacing your existing BI platforms.  Yup, I'm suggesting the BI equivalent of web application "mash ups":  combining disparate content in new and creative ways.  I've seen a few very forward-thinking enterprises do some great work mashing up content from Oracle's OBIEE and Microstrategy.  I've also seen good work done mashing up Jaspersoft and Cognos.  So don't dismiss this idea too quickly...just give it some time to percolate in your brain.

Oh, and about that workload you're struggling to keep up with?  Keep in mind that good BI, well used, generates questions.  Answers are delivered through BI analytics.  Now think about using those BI "mash ups" with a focus on analytics.  Hey...that idea has some potential, doesn't it?

Multiple BI platforms will be around for some time yet; BI nirvana has yet to be found.  We'll all have to learn to live with multiple BI tools for some time to come.  In the meantime, think about BI "mash ups" focused on analytics.  It may be the best thing to do with 'em.

Thoughts?  The comments are at your service.

1 comment:

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