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Back To The Basics Of BI

Friday, January 14, 2011

The business intelligence market can be diverse and confusing.  An infinite number of solutions exist that make it difficult to narrow down choices that directly relate to business problems being faced.  And when looking for examples it can be very hard to find two implementations that are similar in size, purpose, and specific analytics. For organizations looking at expanding their current BI environment, using the same solution with more features may seem obvious even if not the best choice.  However, it becomes beneficial in terms of creating a starting point for solution expansion.  But when looking at BI for the first time general knowledge of how BI works based on current company use does not exist.  In these cases organizations need to get their information from somewhere.  Unfortunately, a clear guide related to the overall market does not exist leaving many organizations to guess at the solutions that will best meet their requirements based on a limited knowledge of the BI market place.

The key to matching the business need to the final solution choice is to understand how business requirements translate into available solutions.  For instance, validating the ROI of marketing campaigns, identifying future customer opportunities, managing finances, or consolidating data and disseminating interactive reports require different types of solutions and evaluation criteria.  Identifying what solutions match each of these business needs as well as overarching requirements between multiple business units.

BI solution types

Generally, the BI market can be broken out into three broad areas:

  1. Full BI suites
  2. Back end data infrastructure
  3. Niche solutions

The understanding of these categories can help narrow down the search for the right solution.  Full BI solutions offer general data storage and management with the help of additional hardwire, all the while providing general reporting, analytics, and dashboards. Deployment types may differ along with pricing, licensing fees, and maintenance and support.  For businesses feeling that a full BI solution is larger than the scope of their current needs, the ability to implement an interactive reporting solution or dashboard can be a good alternative.  Due to the push towards operational BI and using analytics principles to identify forward looking business insights, some companies are moving towards real-time data feeds without strong data warehousing environments. However, for organizations looking for niche solutions with strong data management means that organizations can design and implement customized front-end solutions with a strong data infrastructure.

One of the first steps after gathering requirements is to identify what types of solutions are required.  Understanding the market at a high level can help businesses limit their evaluations to BI solutions that match the general categories/areas of the types of solutions available, leading to the first phase of proper solution choice.

About the Author

Lyndsay Wise is an industry analyst for business intelligence. For over seven years, she has assisted clients in business systems analysis, software selection and implementation of enterprise applications. Lyndsay is the channel expert for BI for the Mid-Market at B-eye-Network and conducts research of leading technologies, products and vendors in business intelligence, marketing performance management, master data management, and unstructured data. She can be reached at lwise@wiseanalytics.com. And please visit Lyndsay's blog at myblog.wiseanalytics.com.

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