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What exactly is agile BI?

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According to Search Business Analytics, Agile BI was one of the most discussed concepts of 2010, but there remains a great deal of confusion to what exactly agile BI is. According to the article, at a TDWI conference in August, some thought it referred to applying agile principles to their BI environments, while other thought it meant the ability of BI to help an organization become more adaptable. What do you think agile BI means?

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  • I have seen "Agile BI" used in two senses - Getting BI implemented in an Agile BI - Through Iterations. As a user, I may not know *EXACTLY* what might be useful for me - so give me some versions and we can fine-tune as we go along. Or Self-service BI. The other sense in which it is used is that the Business Intelligence itself is Agile or reflects the state of affairs as close to real-time as feasible in different situations. What was our POS data s of last night summarized by regions, zones and the country?, for example!

  • I agree with Nari about self-service BI going a long way to promote agility.

    In working with so many customers over the last decade, I've realized that agility comes from speed and flexibility. So, I believe that the most modern BI implementations can be up-and-running (delivering value) in hours and days, not weeks and months.

    And, these modern tools/projects have built-in flexibility - like being able to support on-premises deployments as well as SaaS (multi-tentant) and cloud-based deployments. We hear from a number of customers that simply want the comfort to know they can begin a project in one environment and move it to another without wasted time, effort and money.

    Today's BI platforms need to offer more in the form of speed and flexibility. Delivering a simple, affordable and fast data-to-dashboards experience is Agile BI, in my opinion.

    Brian Gentile
    Chief Executive Officer

  • I'm with Brian and Nari on this too: "agile BI" could mean
    - agile development of BI processes to support change in the business - how to set up something that is useful and change it as required
    - agile usage of BI to support change in the business - how to use a BI platform flexibly to change what you want to look at, navigate new data, etc.

    But as it is a confusing (or overloaded) term, it probably shouldn't be used. What is wrong with "rapid BI deployment" and "adaptable BI usage" or somesuch? At which point every vendor will claim to do this of course!


  • I am fine with the term "agile BI" covering a few different aspects since they all mean being flexible and adaptable.

    To the ones mentioned already which have to do with self-service BI, I would add a point about back-end agility. Being able to mashup disparate data sources, whether they be data warehouses, operational data stores like a CRM or financial system, and even spreadsheets and Web service feeds is a capability that adds to "agile BI."

    Extending that point further, I would add being agile enough to adapt to changing data source structures and needs very quickly, meaning days not months, is key to "agile BI." This is to contrast with the traditional ETL and data warehouse-only model where responding to new data requirements takes months to put in place.

  • There are 2 aspects to the 'Agile' paradigm and understanding them can reduce the confusion.

    The first one is the overarching Agile manifesto as given at - www.agilemanifesto.org. The thought process behind flexibility & adaptability of BI programs gels well with the principles of this manifesto.

    Supporting the Agile manifesto are specific Agile practices like Scrum, Extreme Programming or any variations thereof which helps to put the principles of the manifesto into practice. BI can devise its own set of practices (self-service BI etc.) or follow established practices like Scrum but the principles of the manifesto had to be adhered to so as to derive the benefits of following the Agile paradigm.

  • Actually both exist and we have to distinguish between agile BI projects and agile BI tools. This is what I try to explain in a blog post at http://t.co/Mi64Rs1b

  • Well hello there! In your entry did you base on any extra studies or these are fully your personal thought? Can't wait to hear from you.

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