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August 28, 2006

Are We Too Old for BI?

I've been critical of BI from time to time. The glowing reviews I read about in magazines or awards submissions I judge just don't line up with my experience. Critics would (and do) say that my experience with my clients isn't up to par, but I don't believe it. The really successful ones have a thread that runs through them that is absent from the stragglers.

I have another idea. It's not BI, it's us. We're too old. Those of us who glommed onto technology like you and me are the exception. Most people in our generation can barely tolerate spreadsheets and email. But look at the generation coming up behind us. Their lives ARE technology. So before we wring our hands and try every trick we can think of to seduce people to use BI, lets think about what kind of software we need for people who live on iPod's, text messaging and video games.

They collaborate, they understand electronic communities, they are not afraid to press YES when the dialog asks YES NO CANCEL. Our generation mastered automatic transmissions and hooking up stereo speakers. This generation sees technology, particularly electronic technology, as a normal extension of their environment.

Search and NextGen BI users - two good topics to think about.

Posted by at August 28, 2006 11:15 AM


Hi Neil,

I agree that the wave of the future will be with those that have injected themselves with the concepts of collaboration, open source, and instant communication.

And I would agree that BI products are behind the times today but I think they are slowly moving forward. So I thought I would list a few examples (from "BI for Business People" blog) of improvements that I have seen in the market.

Google is partnering with several BI vendors to integrate Google's easy-to-use search capabilities into BI portal products. ie. SAS and Cognos.

New BI vendors are offering Software As A Service models (ie. Sharp Analytics) and BI appliances (ie. IBM, DATAllegro, Netezza).

And Pentaho is a serious competitor that is using the Open Source business model. They received $8M in venture capital last year.

So there are a few optimistic examples and by all means we are not there yet. But we should keep pushing this issue and hopefully the innovators will deliver.


Posted by: Tom Hudock at January 25, 2007 12:07 PM

Thanks Tom, I agree 100%. I'm familiar with all of those companies and they are moving things ahead (except for the appliance vendors - I don't really see what's different there, they are pushing the same data warehouse metaphor, just availing themselves of the economics). In fact, some of the larger BI vendors are too. So I'm pretty hopeful, though I do worry that the "Gang of Four" (IBM, Microsoft, SAP and Google) may squeeze everyone else out. Notice I didn't say Oracle.

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