Many people believe that if they go ahead and implement
a Business Intelligence solution they will suddenly have an intelligent business
that will tell them how it is operating and what they need to do. Customers they
need contacting will be flagged, orders that are likely to be late are notified
so as to keep the customers happy, and the boss is alerted as to the reason
profits have fallen from 15% to 10%.
The expectation is that the system, the data warehouse, the reports will
provide this intelligence.
This is just wrong.
Just because you give someone a plane and a chisel doesn't make them a
carpenter. My wife will confim that.
All that Business Intelligence solutions provide is the ability for the
intelligence within the business, the people, to be applied to the data that the
business possesses. It also provides the ability for the use their intelligence
to further develop their business, where intelligence is so complex that trying
to do it by hand is not feasible.
A business intelligence solution is a tool that needs to be used in
conjunction with the people within the business. One could say that once
implemented, an automated solution doesn't require the input of people, the
rules are defined and so we can remove the human element. Whilst that is partly
true this doesn't hold tru in the long term. I have not come across one
company that hasn't changed over time, and even if the rate of change of the
company not noticeable the ecconomy and environment it is working in will still
change. With change your business intelligence solution has to also change and
for that you need the people.
This is why I believe Business Intelligence solutions have two problems, one
is getting going, and the second is delivering. Getting going is difficult
because you need the people in the business with the knowledge of the business
to be able to engage with the solution and for many this is a very alien thing
and in many cases a fear of what might happen.
Deliverying is difficult because people want a solution that will answer all
their problems. As their business is changing, trying to deliver a solution
where the goal posts are moving is very difficult and a reason why you need to
make sure delivery is long draw out process.
It will be interesting to see how these areas change as people become more
used to having Business Intelligence solutions as a matter of course in their
business. As with something like search, 10 years ago we didn't have google and
bing, but now even my Dad uses a search engine, but interestingly in a very
different way to how I do, and that is what needs to be achieved with Business
Inteligence. The tool that people use has to be unnoticeable in the way someone
does their job. Just like email is just second nature, so should the
accessiblity of your companies data. Whats more the ability for you to apply
your intelligence to that data in order to answer the questions you have needs
to be second nature.
It will be interesting to see how SQL Server 2008 R2, Gemini and Office 2010
will change the picture. If you are in the UK in November then you can't afford
to miss Donald Farmer one day seminar atSQLBits on Gemini and SQL Server 2008 R2 I believe this will be the only session of this content in
the UK this year.