BI is for IT, But Analytics is for the Business User!

I’ve just come out of a meeting with a business user who is passing up on a well-known BI software package. “It takes too many IT resources to implement. My IT guys love it but I cannot afford the cost/time,” he said.

As companies drown in data, BI is a very expensive route to try and gain value from the data. Mark McDonald, head of research for Gartner Executive Programs, has a very nice article titled Without the Business in Business Intelligence, BI is Dead!. Sounds like – “The King is Dead. Long Live the King.”

BI has been built for the IT community. It is an old-school solution built on the heavy weight model of technology. That model rests on the acquisition, installation and operation of technology based on a significant upfront investment that is earned out over a period of time. This has been the investment/implementation path for enterprise ERP/SCM/CRM/PDM software packages. BI is in this class of software solutions, and results in an expensive and less responsive solution.  Mark McDonald calls this the “old ‘heavy weight’ model of technology”.

The top two categories for Gartner’s predictions for 2010 are Cloud Computing and Analytics – these are both directions that are a far cry from the old world of heavy/expensive/pay upfront software. BI in its current form is completely out of step with these predictions and where the market is heading. So, why did Gartner renamed BI to Analytics? In doing so is BI going to magically transform from its old heavy weight form to a new lean enterprise 2.0 form? Long Live the King?

Emcien offers pattern-based analytics that easily takes sales data in any form to reveal customer buying patterns and trends.  The technology has completely eliminated the need for data models, structures, mapping, etc. Emcien’s pattern based analytics technology was created explicitly to overcome the ‘old heavy weight model of technology’. Pour your sales data in, and watch the customer buying patterns. “Like Google analytics for sales data”, our customers told us.

Mark McDonald has prophecy for BI that I think is dead-on (pun!?). “On a radical note, we are seeing some early signs that companies are looking to use social media/web 2.0 technologies to address business issues that were previously assigned to BI.


Lighter weight technologies handle tacit information and semi-structured process support better than BI solutions that rely on structured and standardized information.

Our customers completely agree with Mark McDonald. Quoting a VP from a Fortune 500 company, “We have lost the appetite for million dollar software and long implementations that consume IT resources”.

However, the need for harvesting intelligence from data is not going away. On the contrary, it has never been more important than it is now. The data hides jewels of intelligence that companies need to act on NOW. But that is only possible if Business Intelligence is not a technology but a capability for the enterprise. Long Live the King!

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