TDWI Webinar and Best Practices Report: Real-Time Data, BI and Analytics

TDWI held a webinar this morning to promote their new Best Practices Report on real-time data, BI and analytics. It’s worth a glance.

The report and presentation were team efforts by Philip Russom, David Stodder, and Fern Halper. The report, as usual, was centered around a survey and was a survey of IT people rather than business users. The report relates, “The majority of survey respondents are IT professionals (63%), whereas the others are consultants (20%) and business sponsors or users (17%).” Not much room there for the opinions of the people who need to use BI. Still, for understanding the IT perspective, it’s interesting.

The most valuable pointer in the presentation was given by Dave Stodder, who pointed out what too many folks ignore: Much of the want for real-time data is bounded by the inability of the major operational systems, such as ERP and CRM, to move from batch to real-time support. While BI firms can prepare for that, it’s the other vendors providing and the users adopting systems that allow real-time extraction in an effective manner that is the big bottleneck to adoption.

One issue that the TDWI folks and many others in our industry have is a misconception around the phrase “operational systems.” Enterprise software folks have grown up thinking of operations as synonymous with business operations. That’s not the case. All three of the analysts made that error even while discussing the fact that the internet of things means more devices are becoming data sources.

Those people who provide manufacturing software understand that and have for years. There’s much that can be leveraged from that sector but I don’t hear much mentioned in our arena. Fern Halper did mention IT operations as an area already using basic analytics, but I think the message could be stronger. Network management companies have decades of experience in real time monitoring and analysis of performance issues and that could be leveraged.

Build, buy or borrow are options for software as well as other industries, but I only see people considering building. We should be looking more to other software sectors for inspiration and partnerships.

There was also a strange bifurcation that Dave Stodder and Fern Halper seem to be making, by splitting BI and analytics. Analytics are just one facet of BI. I don’t see a split being necessary.

At the end of the presentation, they reviewed their top ten priorities (page 43 of the report). Most are very standard but I’ll point to the second, “Don’t expect the new stuff to replace the old stuff.” It’s relevant to the discussion vendors seem to think that revolutionary trumps evolutionary. It doesn’t. Each step in new forms of BI, such as predictive analytics, extends the ability to help business users make better decisions. It’s layered on top of the rest of the analysis to build a more complete picture, it doesn’t replace it.

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