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At What Level of Maturity Would an Enterprise Require a BI Product?

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Soumadeep Sen: Business intelligence is more of a secondary requirement for any organization as their primary concerns are to get applications that provide direct benefits. Say for instance a financial accounting system, billing system or an ERP. So at what level of maturity would an enterprise require a BI product?

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  • Its critical from inception that an organization employs some form of BI process, identify key measures, and monitor from the start.

    To understand what is and isn't working with the product or service offering, customer/prospect requests, get visibility into what a sales process looks like, and manage costs some form of tracking is vital. Externally; both investors and partners will look to and request various metrics used to determine progress. The solution/product deployed and used is determined by the needs and what the business can afford.

  • During the last 2 years, I've watched smaller and smaller organizations quickly adopt sophisticated BI tools and processes because they are dealing with "enterprise-class" data and business intelligence problems. About 9 months ago, I wrote that the size or maturity of an organization no longer best determines their need for BI. Today, because such a high percentage of a company's value is based upon its ability to harness and use information (to create competitive advantage), this increase in sophisticated use of BI is unsurprising.

    Recently, I met with three small firms, all of which are using near real-time BI data feeds that drive a variety of reports and analyses designed to improve intra-day decision-making. Not one of these companies employs more than 50 people and two of them were less than 3 years old (and none of them were in financial services). In these cases, BI is a primary system that fuels value and advantage, not a secondary one that comes after the transaction systems are deployed. More and more commonly, this is the model of the future.

    Brian Gentile
    Chief Executive Officer

  • Before selecting a BI product, the enterprise must first start off by developing a business intelligence strategy. As part of the strategy, the company stakeholders must agree to a set of priorities that they believe will be necessary to measure and monitor the key performance indicators of the business in addition to determining the timing of a BI product rollout. Depending on the nature and size of the business and its model, this can be quite a significant task. My sense is that the business would have to be at a maturity level where they have implemented essential core applications along with having a core business intelligence strategy before ever choosing a business intelligence product.

  • The days of small companies doing Data only for Financial Purposes is long gone. With Open Source and inexpensive SaaS BI solutions available, BI should be affordable by any business.

    If they have their data on scraps of paper in a shoe box, they have bigger problems than BI! :-)

  • At a very fundamental level, there are 2 kinds of BI - Simple BI & Sophisticated BI.

    Simple BI is done by all organizations right from inception - afterall, every company wants to analyze how they are doing. Typically these are done using excel sheets, has no data management architecture and this type of BI cannot provide any sustainable competitive advantage.

    Sophisticated BI, on the other hand, is carried out by organizations with strategic focus on BI. Such companies truly believe that BI helps them to be more competitive in the market-place and hence BI in these firms is built on a solid data management infrastructure. Information intensive industries (Financial Services, Retail, Telecom, Airlines, Logistics, Market research etc.) tends to practice sophisticated BI, due to the very nature of their business model. Also, it is logical to infer, that sophisticated BI will require a fully featured BI product platform.

    So my perspective on this question is: Requirement for a fully featured BI product depends on the business model of an enterprise. Depending on the business model, a company might require a BI product at an early or later stages of its IT maturity life-cycle.

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