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Are BI vendors creating unrealistic expectations?

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Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Reg reader workshop Earlier this week on the current Reg Workshop discussion it was posited that all too often marketing people appear to be in control of the vocabulary used in relation to Business Intelligence (BI).

We went on to say that much of the language seems to be targeted at motivating senior managers and "business decision makers" on the vision and benefits, neglecting the fact that practitioners need more clarity in order for the tools to deliver anything approaching full business value.

Early feedback from you showed that we may have hit a nerve. As one reader put it:

"The problem is that suppliers make it all sound so easy when presenting to the higher ups. Our managers see a demonstration of some slick front end that shows everything they need to know about the business on one screen and they say 'I want one of those'. What everyone forgets is that the data to drive such a thing is not always available, or even is available from more than one place (then which one do you choose?). Point being, it's not just about fancy tools."

Another argued that effective BI was impossible as the core data was contained in too many places and that the solutions from different vendors took different approaches to generating information. His plea of "has anybody actually thought about starting BI taskforce - a coalition of vendors all gunning for the same goal?" might raise one or two eyebrows, but stranger things have happened in this industry.

Another reader basically summarised the concept of BI as "Balderdash and Gobbledygook". His view was that it is impossible to collate all the necessary facts and trends into a set of simple BI generated dials and buttons. He stated: "You can give me unrelated systems and managers who know their fields inside and out over business intelligence any day of the week. Including Sundays."

These thoughts raise the question of whether vendors make enough effort to explain the practicalities as well as the business rationale for BI. Are they targeting the right people with their sales activities and delivering the right kind of marketing and educational materials? Should, for example, they seek to educate and influence end users of BI solutions independently of those charged with supporting such systems?

To help us and other readers get to the bottom of some of these questions, we would be grateful if you would take a couple of minutes to give us your views in the little poll below. We'll report back on the results at the end of the week.

QUICK POLL

This poll is now closed

Who in your organisation is generally involved in defining BI related requirements?

  • Almost exclusively IT people
  • Mostly IT people, based on input from business users
  • Both business users and IT, who define requirements together
  • Mostly business users, with advice and guidance from IT
  • Almost exclusively business users
  • Unsure

In your experience, who do BI vendors target with their marketing and sales activity?

  • Almost exclusively IT people
  • Mostly IT people, some targeting of business people
  • Roughly even mix of business and IT people
  • Mostly business people, with some targeting of IT
  • Almost exclusively business people
  • Unsure

Does BI vendor marketing and education material tend to suffer from any of the following problems?

  • It is often burdened with too much technical or specialist jargon
  • It is often too idealistic, generating unrealistic expectations among users
  • Both of the above
  • Neither of the above, it's generally pitched about right
  • Varies too much to generalise

What could BI vendors do to make their marketing material more relevant and useful?

How large is your organisation?

  • Less than 10 employees
  • 10 to 49 employees
  • 50 to 249 employees
  • 250 to 4,999 employees
  • 5,000 to 24,999 employees
  • More than 25,000 employees

This poll is now closed

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