The BI jargon mini-poll results are in and they make interesting reading, with lessons in there for both vendors and IT departments. Over eighty per cent of those who gave us their feedback believe that vendor marketing material is often too idealistic and generating unrealistic expectations amongst business users (Figure 1 …
Unless the business partners with IT this is unlikely to change
Simple Q: why do brochures sell to executives? Answer: because they currently the skills to separate fact from fiction, which also explains the vast quantities of fiction present in sales material (ever wondered why they never leave them behind? Hint: analyse the statistics used).
It is in the vendors' interest to create the demand (and dreams) at executive level because they are the economic buyers, and have the (developed) ability to ignore the groans from IT who can see another "IT can't deliver anything" sermon coming. Only when IT is brought into the procurement loop BEFORE the decision is taken will this situation abate.
The communication gap between the executive and IT creates multiple risks for the organisation - abuse by creative sales people is but one example..
IEE Recommendations - IT Evolution
One has also to consider that the role of IT is changing.
IT Departments should transform themselves to be more business - even to bring income to the company to self-fund themselves.
Thus I dont quite get why the vendors targeting should impact the progress on this field, particularly if you are working in a company that both worlds (Business and IT) co-exist in each department.
After all BI is about to help in this sort of evolution afterall.
With BI solutions often costing an unknown sum of money (think of all those hidden 'extras' that appear to drive your project over-budget - like, e.g. consultancy fees, system downtime, unexpected technical hitches), possibly taking months to bed-in, often delivering intangible benefits (is it really always more efficient to turn a business process into a 'click me' button?), resistance from the user community (I wonder how many BI salesmen have tried to persuade a recalcitrant user that it really is a step forward to replace their current (possibly rewarding) job with a set of repetetive and undemanding tasks), and incomprehending annoyance from senior management when everything doesn't run as smoothly as laid out in the sales brochure and it's hardly surprising if IT folks are a little sceptical about the overall benefits of Business Intelligence*.
I'm not convinced that we should be transforming ourselves to be 'more business' either. For one thing it's not as if your run-of-the-mill business IT is at the cutting edge of developing new technologies - most companies require user, file & printer management, email, a website, a database (possibly a couple of databases), a front-end and some business rules and that's about it. None of this stuff is particularly new or exciting and if anything business has seen the advantages of these technologies and decided they can help it to be more IT.
The thing that seems to annoy most business people more than anything is reliability - and (as any system designer will tell you) this only comes through stability. If you keep changing things every 5 minutes you're going to build instability into your systems because your IT solutions won't have time to bed in. And that's the problem with IT and business, really. Businesses need to be reactive because if they aren't they'll be out of business quite quickly but geuninely innovative IT solutions are - like any field of innovation - often undertaken more in a spirit of adventure than a detailed risk analysis. The result is that new technologies are slow moving in the area of reliability - the one area that gives businessmen the hives.
* The title doesn't help either - as my partner observed when I mentioned this topic to her: "Business Intelligence - now /there's/ an oxymoron".
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