New Frontiers in Business Intelligence

Nari Kannan

Different Stages of BI Evolution!

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Many Business Intelligence efforts within companies fail miserably because they do not allow enough time for them to evolve!

They are usually in such a big hurry to get all of the BI requirements from various functions taken care of, that they form a massive, centralized BI effort and that succeeds rarely!

BI efforts have to go through their own maturity processes for them to take root and become successful. Businesses are constantly evolving, BI technology is also evolving in parallel.

Here are my guesses as to the level stages of BI Evolutions in companies:

a. Initial Exploratory Beachheads
b. Tentative Cross-function Operational BI
c. Enterprise-wide Integration and Attempts at Single Versions of Truth
d. Customer or Client Focused BI

a. Initial Exploratory Beachheads:
Sales and Finance are the first two functions to try any kind of BI. Slicing and dicing sales data by region, zone and sales personnel hierarchies and analysis of Financial performance are two of the initial exploratory beachheads in most companies.

b. Tentative Cross-Function Operational BI - In this stage, sales data begins to be combined with financial data, manufacturing data begins to be combined with financial data and cross-functional operational questions are answered by BI in this stage. What was the cost of the things we sold in various product lines, regions, etc? What was our cost of manufacturing various product lines?

c. Enterprise-Wide Integration and Attempts at Single Versions of Truth:  In this stage, enterprise wide integration of various systems happens and attempts at single versions of truth are made. The recent upswing in interest in MDM (Master Data Management) products and services is a classic example of companies trying to bring their various repositories of information together and have them all make some kind of sense. For example, a bank may have different systems handling their Bank Operations and Financial Products. When they try to cross sell a bank customer on financial products and vice-versa, their systems may not be easily linked without an MDM product that bridges the different electronic identities of the same person within their systems.

d. Customer or Client Focused BI: When all your internal systems are integrated, then you are ready to focus completely on the single version of a client or a customer within your organization. Surprisingly Internet Commerce has created a whole new wealth of information about a client or a customer purely based on their online actions. This information is sort of driving a lot of companies to this level of BI Evolution faster than it would have been otherwise.

Driving an organization through the different stages of evolution is not something that can be hurried up. It has to take its own time and effort, unfortunately. Users of BI that have gone through an evolutionary process of figuring out what they needed in an iterative way are likely to be more successful in creating and using BI than organizations that have rushed through a BI implementation effort.

It is wiser to find out than to suppose - Mark Twain. 

Nari Kannan's blog explores how new approaches to business intelligence can help organizations improve the performance of business processes--whether these processes are creative or operational, internally-focused or customer-facing, intra-departmental or across functions.

Nari Kannan

Nari Kannan started and serves as the CEO of appsparq, a Mobile Applications development company based in Louisville, KY with offices in Singapore and India. Nari has over two decades of experience in computer systems development, translating product and service strategy into meaningful technology solutions, and both people and product development. Prior to this, he has served as both Chief Technology Officer and Vice President- Engineering in six successful startups, two of which he co-founded. He has proven experience in building companies, engineering teams, and software solutions from scratch in the United States and India. Prior to this, Nari started Ajira Technologies, Inc., in Pleasanton, CA, where he served as Chief Executive Officer for more than six years. While at Ajira, Nari was instrumental in developing service process management solutions that modeled, monitored, and analyzed business processes, initially targeting the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Telecom, and Banking verticals in India, and Finance, Insurance, and Healthcare verticals in the United States. Prior to this, he served as VP-Engineering at Ensenda, an ASP for local delivery services. He also served variously as Chief Technology Officer or VP-Engineering at other Bay-Area venture funded startups such as Kadiri and Ensera. He began his career at Digital Equipment Corporation as a Senior Software Engineer. Nari has a long involvement with Customer Support and other customer facing processes. At Digital Equipment Corporation he was involved with their 1800 person customer support center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was tasked with coming up with innovative tools to help customer support people do their jobs better. He holds a U.S patent for a software invention that automatically redirected email requests for customer support to the right group by digesting the contents of the request and guessing at which software or hardware support group is best equipped to handle it. At Ensera, he led a 45 person team in developing an internet based ASP service for handling auto insurance claims, coordinating information flow between end-customers, Insurance companies, Repair shops and Parts suppliers. Ensera was acquired by Mitchell Corporation in San Diego. Nari holds a B.S. degree in Physics from Loyola College, and an M.B.A degree from the University of Madras in Madras, India. He graduated with a M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1985. Contact Information: Nari Kannan. Email: Mobile: 925 353 0197. Website: View more .


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