Breaking the BI cycle

By Richard Williams, Principal Consultant - BI on
When I started my career in Business Intelligence, I read that it was going to be the next big thing in IT. Seventeen years later, I smile when I see BI at or near the top of Gartner’s top 10 focus areas for CIOs.

This year the focus is on Big Data, but BI or Analytics is once again high on the list, which begs the question: why is this the case? I know that organisations need to keep evolving their BI solution as technology, the economy and specific industries change, but by now BI should be well embedded within the IT landscape of an enterprise.

A famous quote comes to mind. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” In this context the constant requirement to meet static reporting needs or provide complex dashboards in a set hierarchal manner is one form of insanity.  While that approach has worked – and in some cases still can work – there are now other ways to meet an organisation’s analytical requirements.  Hence why the term Data Discovery is so prevalent in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant these days. It is part of a new wave of BI that moves away from the traditional hierarchical approach of stack vendors.

Having worked with BI software from stack vendors for most of my career I have often been frustrated by some of the long-term outcomes the BI solutions have delivered, namely:  senior level executives don’t use the dashboard because they are too complicated or too slow, multitudes of different reports are used to service slightly different requirements, and analyst users continue to export data into Excel to provide more interaction with data.

Vendors that are leaders in Data Discovery, such as Qlik, do not necessarily focus on the specific type of user skill set or a certain categorisation of BI output; a report, a dashboard, or ad-hoc analysis.  Qlik provides a business discovery platform that delivers insights for all users, breaking through the constraints of a traditional drill down hierarchy to create a flexible associative model.  Furthermore, Qlik is regularly ranked highly for end user adoption and customer satisfaction.  Working with Qlik is definitely making me more sane by the day and I get great satisfaction from seeing users at customer sites experience that “a-ha” moment of discovery.

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