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ebizQ's Business Agility Watch


Can Operational Business Intelligence Prevent BI Failure? Talking With BizSensors

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Listen to my podcast with Soumadeep Sen, the founder and CEO of BizSensors, a company which offers this operational BI suite. In this podcast we discuss the latest in BI, from how to prevent BI failure as well as Operational BI.

Listen to or download the 8:01 minute podcast below:

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Pete: BI initiatives are pretty notorious for failing. How does your company plan to avoid that failure?

SS: Well, this has been a real pain point for a lot of people, Yes, that's true but it's more to do with the way BI is perceived today and implemented. The hindsight approach, as we call it, needs to be supplemented with operational as well as predictive analytics. So just depending on historical data alone won't help--you need to know what is happening right now to put the dots together.

Well, to put it in perspective: It's a typical case of insight on hindsight leading to nowhere, as I would put it.

PS: In regards to SOA, do you think that the new brand of BI products will embrace SOA and exactly how would it help BI?

SS: Yeah, In fact I strongly believe so and our product is in line with it. It has a SOA framework. For instance, the operational aspect alone--as far as BI is concerned, you have information coming from various sources--partners, customers, vendors--not to mention your existing systems. In such a scenario, to make a decision, you need information from various sources. Accessing such isolated data in a consumable form is a nightmare today.

And this is where I think services will become important, as you would know that, in reality, the decision maker's lookup pattern for information itself varies with time. So I guess SOA is the way enterprises would help bridge this gap by enabling these services, which can be put together to create a particular set of information that the decision makers would like to see, at any given point of time, before taking a decision.

I think that is where SOA would play an important role going forward, apart from integration.

Pete: As you are well aware, BI vendors are going into the cloud. What you think of BI in the cloud?

SS: From an economic viability and scalability perspective, it works. But from our experience - what we are seeing is that customers still have reservations. Now there might be different reasons, in terms of exposing their information on the cloud, especially when the information in question is BI-related.

It is also a regional thing. In certain regions such as Asia, you will find that people are reluctant about exposing their information, whereas in other regions, such as North America or Europe, the adoption has already started.

The other aspect is that one must not forget that we still don't have well-defined data-protection laws to protect customers at an international level. I think the acceptance will be there.

But things are changing. It's going to take time.

PS: As you guys do operational BI, do you think operational BI alone is enough for enterprises today?

SS: Not really. In fact, we had this discussion earlier in one of your forums. I would say operational BI is one of the critical components of BI, apart from predictive and historical modules. But if you are into a business, it depends where you need to respond quickly....You need the right information, [so] getting this at the right time is even more important, as one mistake could cost your business a lot!

So the thing is: It's all about the real-time aspect of it. Operational BI is more relevant when handling real-time issues that organizations face. In fact, recalling from one of my case studies [that] I think I discussed in one of your forums some time back: One of our POCs was with a large semiconductor company in Asia...They had the best of the BI products that are available in the market today, but their problem was they had huge issues in reconciling their delivery information in line with their transporters or the carriers. So when line-of-business executives called a customers for followup on existing quotes without knowledge of existing deliveries, they were forced to spend time on support activities due to delays in deliveries.

So rather than doing the sell out there, they were getting into more of support activities. In some cases they lost their customer, as the supply chain management in reality is very closely tied, where production schedules are dependent on raw materials and the time window is very small for avoiding unnecessary inventory costs.

This is where operation BI comes into the picture. It's more [about the] real-time needs of an organization. But coming back to your question: Historical analytics as well as predictive analytics are another two critical areas.

PS: Now what are your thoughts on MIS reporting in the context of BI?

SS: I will take it on a lighter note. In fact, let me share this with you. Recently, while prospecting a telecommunication client, I heard the most atrocious claim from a very [reputable] call-center vendor....We were competing with them. They claimed that they provided "a 360-degree reporting package." When I inquired what exactly they meant by that, [the vendor representative] simply said that "We generate 360 reports!". I think I will leave it at that.

ebizQ’s expert blog team covers a broad range of BPM, business integration, business analytics/monitoring, collaboration, content and related issues.

Peter Schooff

Peter Schooff is Contributing Editor at ebizQ, and manager of the ebizQ Forum. Contact him at pschooff@techtarget.com

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