New Year’s Resolutions: What you can do to make BI better in 2013

Now that we’re in January, information management industry media and analysts are done with their recaps, predictions, and forecasts and have moved on to some resolutions for 2013.  Following are a few of our favorites… and don’t worry, not one mentions a diet.

Resolution #1: Learn to live with your multiple BI platforms.

In a blog post for Information Management, Forrester BI Analyst Boris Evelson states: “Currently, Forrester client inquiries about how to live with multiple BI tools far exceed inquiries about platform consolidation.  Why?  There is simply no one vendor that provides all of the key agile BI capabilities.  And this is unlikely to happen in the near future, so the need for multiple BI tools will be a pragmatic reality well into 2012 (and now into 2013).”

Resolution #2: Leverage analytics to move beyond simple dashboards and reports.

Steven Hillion, chief data officer for Alpine Data Labs, says that traditional BI has become a ‘question generator’ while analytics is becoming the ‘answer machine.’  In a recent Enterprise Apps Today article, he states: “With reports and dashboards now running against larger datasets and increasingly in real time, you are able to get a snapshot of your business and identify where you need to pay attention in sales, support, marketing and finance.” And once you know that sales are down or customer calls are up or advertising costs are too high, what do you do about it?  You start to ask even more questions.

Resolution #3: Continue your journey towards self-service BI.

Michael Whitehead, founder and CEO of Wherescape Software, suggests in a recent TDWI article that we should all accept an inconvenient truth: “BI just can’t be made completely self-serviceable.  Data access will continue to be a problem.  (If a traditional data warehouse is involved, it will be a big problem.)”

According to Whitehead, the industry hopes that by building self-service capabilities into BI tools and by co-opting the metaphor of discovery, it can make BI more responsive.  It can put users, not IT, in control.

Whitehead says it isn’t going to happen.  If self-service discovery is used as a front-end for the same inflexible, hard-to-change data warehouses, it’s bound to fail.  Before a user starts exploring with a discovery tool, someone has to provision and prepare their data for them.  According to Whitehead, even vendors such as QlikTech or Tableau, which became successful because they eschewed sophisticated data preparation, have come around: QlikTech by buying an ETL vendor to address its data integration shortcomings; Tableau by incorporating enterprise amenities into its more recent releases.

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