TDWI Webinar Review: Business- Driven Analytics. Where’s business?

Today’s TDWI webinar was an overview of their latest best practices report. The intriguing thing was the numbers show that BI & Analytics still aren’t business driven. As Dave Stodder, Director of Research for Business Intelligence, pointed out, there are two key items contradicting that. First, more than half of companies have BI in less than 30% of the organization, pointing out that a large number of businesses aren’t prioritizing BI. Second, most of the responses to questions about BI show that it’s still something controlled and pushed by IT.

One point Dave mentioned was still the overwhelming presence of spreadsheets. They aren’t going away soon. A few vendors who have presented at the BBBT have also pointed out their focus at integrating spreadsheets rather than ignoring all the data that resides in them or demanding everything be collected in a data repository. The sooner more vendors realize they need to work with the existing business infrastructure rather than fight against it, the better off the industry will be.

Another interesting point was the influence of the CMO. I regularly read about analysts and others talking about how the “CMO has a bigger IT budget than the CIO!” The numbers from the TDWI survey don’t bear that out. One slide, a set of tables representing different CxO level positions’ involvement in different areas of the IT buying process show the CMO up near the CIO for identifying the need, but far behind in every other category – categories that include “allocate budget” and “approve budget.” In tech firms, and especially in Silicon Valley, people look around at other firms involved in the internet and forget they’re a small subset of the overall market.

Another intriguing point was brought out in the survey. Of companies with Centers of Excellence or similar groups to expand business intelligence, the list of titles involved in those groups shows an almost complete dearth of business users. It seems that IT still thinks of BI as a cool toy they can provide to users, not something that business users need to be involved in to ensure the right things are being offered. Only 15% show line of business management involved while a pathetic 4% show marketing’s involvement.

The last major point I’ll discuss is an interesting but flawed question/answer table. The question was on how the business-side leadership is doing during different aspects of a BI project. The numbers aren’t good. However, as we’ve just discussed, business isn’t included as much as they should be. There are two things that make me consider:

  • What would the pair of charts look like if the chart was split to look at how IT and business respondents each look at the question?
  • Is it an issue of IT not involving business or business not getting involved when opportunities are presented?

Summary

TDWI’s overview of the current state of business-driven BI & analytics seems to show that there’s a clear demand from the business community but there doesn’t seem to be the business involvement need to finish the widespread expansion of BI into most enterprises.

What I’d like to see TDWI focus on next is the barriers to that spread, the things that both IT and business see as inhibitors to expanding the role of modern BI tools in the business manager’s and CxO suite’s daily decision making.

It’s a good report, but only as a descriptive analysis of current state. It doesn’t provide enough information to help with prescriptive action.

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