Balancing information management with delivery
By Jon Collins
Information continues to grow, and yet the challenges we face in managing information
remain the same. With this in mind, we consider how organisations are moving forward
with their strategies to get value from information based on the results of two IT
Professional surveys conducted three years apart, in March 2007 and May 2010.
Data challenges remain prevalent across organisations of all sizes
Information volumes continue to grow. Against this background, user complaints around information
fragmentation, consistency and availability remain – if anything, users are becoming more vocal
about these issues. While the majority of organisations agree with the benefits of delivering
information broadly across the organisation, a decreasing number believe that they have this
The need for a BI strategy is still recognised, even if traditional tools are on the wane
Interestingly, increasing numbers of mid-sized and smaller organisations confirm the need for an
overall business intelligence strategy. While the use of traditional BI tools has increased slightly, the
growth rate itself has decreased – dropping from 45% to 31% in the case of data
warehousing/analytics within mainstream DBMSs, for example.
Challenges around BI deployments go some way to explaining this shortfall
Experience of BI principles and practice has increased over the past three years (despite there
being little credit given to vendors’ ambiguous or confused marketing speak). So, we can have
some confidence in the challenges prioritised by respondents, not least of which include difficulties
in defining requirements, and the fact that existing systems are too piecemeal to form a solid
enough foundation for good BI.
Information is still seen as a competitive enabler, but it needs to be delivered right
There is general agreement from respondents that information is a competitive enabler, even if this
number has fallen slightly. However, the way in which BI needs to be delivered is different to how it
is currently in place – the preference is for a properly designed and coordinated BI infrastructure
blending appropriate capabilities from different vendors.
Increasing focus is on delivery mechanisms for BI, rather than back-end tools
While traditional BI has focused more on repositories and analytical systems, the main growth areas
are more about delivery mechanisms such as portals and reporting tools, workflow and rules
engines. The important take-away is that for BI to be done right, organisations need to focus
definition efforts around both back-end systems and information delivery, to avoid delivering partial
solutions which offer little incremental benefit.