There has been a heated debate going over here on the relative merits of mainframe architectures versus massively parallel Intel/AMD based platforms for large scale data warehousing and other requirements. So far, the mainframe camp seems to be winning this one, so if you are a fan of MPP, get yourself over there and have your …
Small Business Needs
"bringing all of the complexity and technical overkill with them"
I think this is already happening, I work for a small company which employs around 15 people. Yet our internal BI system has 2 full time programmers working on it, and we've just installed a cluster of 8 very high end servers to process all the data. Admittedly we're not your everyday company, but as companies become more niche I can only see this trend growing.
Our biggest challenge is working with data in so many formats, it seems every different company we work with offers their data in its own unique format and each require there own custom handling code (so the slightest change can cause the biggest headaches) - the panacea which XML and Webservices promised has never materialised, while it improved data-interchange it also brought a raft of new problems and now we have the added layer of SOA.
The whole idea of interchangeable data and warehousing needs to be rethought out and simplified, a starting point would be to get all the biggest API providers to standardise their systems and report formats.
I have just roll out BI for the company I currently work for, a company of about 60 people. We had briefly look at all available technology/vendor products and concluded that most of them were (probably still are) out of reach of our budget. We opt off open source bi tools and platform in the end. The reason for this was almost a no contest, completing products were just simply too expensive. Instead, we invested money into sending people on week-long overseas trip to pick-up knowledge and books and documentation . We ended up building a data warehouse ourselves, with analytics and automatic report mailout etc.
In my opinion many of the problems associate with large companies still valids in SME but SME are also likely to have less of certain problems. For example, many SME have limited number of data all over the place as compare to large oragnization. The politics are also simpler as one or two person can decide what data to be made available and what sort of coorperation is needed. BI is just a term, what is important is the project itself need to be implemented like a real business system like one would implement a ISO9001 system. A DW is quite useless if information are not delivered to the right person at the right time. It is also equally useless if the user do not know how to use them. What is rather common is people assume only key managers needs BI, in fact properly implemented decision making can be pass to the frontline people to make business process faster.
Hammers and nails
To a guy with only a hammer, all problems look like nails. The trick is to IDENTIFY the business needs of the company and, ignore all the jargon, IT or otherwise (BI, Datawarehousing, Market-share, JIT, etc.). Having been on most sides of this polygonal table, I do have some idea of what all this is about.
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