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Big Data

The Challenges with Traditional Business Intelligence

on January 21, 2014

Business Intelligence (also known as dashboarding, reporting, Enterprise Performance Management, and other names, but referenced as ‘BI’ in this post) solutions have been around for a couple of decades now, and have reached a level of established maturity. These solutions strive to provide visibility into high volumes of data generated by large, complex organizations. This is accomplished by aggregating and summarizing these data, and focus on presenting information in chart and report format.

The purpose of these tools is to provide information that can enable action to improve business outcomes. There is significant value to be realized from leveraging these solutions, as they can provide key insight into operational performance, risk, and opportunity for improvement. However, there are three key challenges that inhibit these solutions from providing maximum ability to improve outcomes:

  • Challenge #1: The ad-hoc nature of finding value in the information presented. While the BI solution typically contains the necessary data that are required for identifying opportunities for improvement, significant effort is often required to get to these insights. Often, the level of effort required to find valuable data points exceeds the cost of finding it.

  • Challenge #2: Complexity and cost of implementation. Traditional BI solutions require data from many different, and often disparate, data sources. The unique aspects of each organization require significant time and effort to get them up and running – although the new breed of BI solutions can help accelerate that process. At the end of the day, there is considerable effort required to stand up and run these solutions.

  • Challenge #3: The difficulty in acting on what you learn. This is the biggest challenge with driving value from traditional BI solutions. Once insight has been gained from the BI solution, there is no clear path to action, and often no link to the underlying detailed data. Acting on the findings is limited, and is especially challenging from the BI solution itself.

In summary, there is great value in well-deployed BI solutions, but they require significant effort to realize this value. Deriving information that can drive action to affect change on organizational performance is an ongoing challenge, as well as enabling that action. That, on top of the fact that 70%-80% of BI projects fail (according to Gartner), is encouraging organizations to look for a better way.

For an introduction to a better way, please stay tuned for the next blog in this series titled ‘A Better Way to Drive Value from Business Intelligence – How to Make it Actionable!’.