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Leveraging Information and Intelligence

David Linthicum

More Weaknesses of BI

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This article by Diann Daniel, of CIO, highlights recent findings around the "Three Weaknesses in Business Intelligence Today."

"SeeWhy Software, the privately held maker of a real-time business intelligence (BI) platform, commissioned researchers at Dynamic Markets to survey how well business intelligence was being used in operations. The study surveyed 218 enterprise operations managers in the United States and the United Kingdom."
First of all, take these types of surveys with a grain of salt. They are obviously paying for the research, thus typically come up with the findings they are looking for. Not sure this is the case in this instance, but there is always a bit of a conflict of interest. However, there are a couple of points I wanted to make around the findings.

Here are the findings:


"1. BI tools provide out of date information. A majority of respondents find themselves needing to make decisions before all the necessary information is in. This means that information gleaned from BI reports is not made relevant for today. Sixty-three percent think business intelligence reports are relegated to reference documents used to report official numbers."

They have something there, and we've been covering that issue here a lot. The fact is that most BI systems leverage information that is typically weeks, if not months, out of date. Thus, they are making decisions around information that just does not reflect the current business, and therefore you can make some huge mistakes. How would you like to define risks around stock trading based on 2008 information...many do.

"2. Business intelligence tools fail to identify process problems. Eighty percent of operations managers polled were alerted to problems by people rather than from data alerts."
I'm not sure BI tools are there to identify process problems. They may, however, highlight some symptoms. Indeed, people are the way you find out about those.
"3. BI tools can't be used as predictors. Fifty-eight percent of respondents say business opportunities have been missed or problems have not been spotted due to a lack of time-sensitive, relevant information."

Perhaps this should have been bundled with issue 1, but this is also a huge issue with BI. The fact is that BI, while doing a pretty good job of presenting information in what I call "decision support views" typically does a poor job spotting business problems, unless specially programmed to spot them.

1 Comment

The points 1. and 3. depend on the level of decision making you are in! For strategical and tactical decision making and partially even on operational levels people don't need up-to-date or live data. Therefore peridodically updated traditional BI solutions incl. DWHs, Reports, ... are sufficient.

Often people ask for fresh data and if you take a closer look they don't need it in terms of the investment doesn't pay off.

However, SeeWhy is a "real-time" BI vendor and of course they bend this stuff into their direction.

Industry expert Dave Linthicum tells you what you need to know about building efficiency into the information management infrastructure

David Linthicum

David Linthicum is the CTO of Blue Mountain Labs, and an internationally known distributed computing and application integration expert. View more

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