It may seem like semantics, but CIO interest in business intelligence technology is changing. After five years as the top CIO technology priority (2004 – 2009) CIOs responding to the 2010 Gartner Executive Programs CIO survey placed BI as fifth among their top 10 technologies.
During a briefing for a group of High Tech analyst relations professionals, I commented that if the preliminary trend held I would write about it in my blog. This entry fulfills that promise and seeks to describe what is going on.
The shift is the subject of significant interest and discussion among CIOs, the media and research community. Is BI dead? Does this mean that companies have given up on data warehouses, analytics and the rest? What does this say about CIOs and enterprises that have invested heavily in BI for the past five years – were they wrong?
The answers to these questions, in my opinion are:
- Increasingly yes particularly when you see it as a large upfront technology centric investment
- No, they have not given up, nor should they
- No, its just that they have laid the technology and now need to create
Business intelligence the management capability needs to replace BI the technology. Please notice that we would like to have made a play-on-words to say intelligent or smart businesses, but someone else has trademarked those terms.
BI and the whole area related to creating, collecting, analyzing and applying information and knowledge seems to re-name itself about every six months, according to Jeannie Harris co-author of the new book Analytics at Work. I think that Jeannie may be right and the industry is undergoing a redefinition that will change its focus away from BI the technology to Business Intelligence the enterprise capability.
Creating a business intelligence capability demands a broader set of people, processes and tools that work together to raise intelligence, analytics and business performance. That framework, shown below, is explained in Gartner’s Business Intelligence, Analytics and Performance Management Framework ID: G00166512 (license required). The framework, based on proven practices for gaining business value through business intelligence, highlights the need to have more that just technology to create value.
The move from technology to capability is about time as most organizations have already progressed through the peak of their CAPEX curve and moves from buying solutions to applying solutions. That move alone would cause BI to progress down the list, as it becomes part of the enterprise technology fabric. Companies that have poorly implemented their first or even second wave of BI poorly probably have
In my personal opinion, BI may be the last major technology to move through the old ‘heavy weight’ model of technology. That model, described in greater detail here, rests on the acquisition, installation and operation of technology based on a significant upfront investment that is earned out over a period of time. Most of the major ‘management’ systems ERP/SCM/CRM/PDM operated under that model which made IT appear expensive and less responsive. BI has gone through that same investment pattern and it may be the last given the availability of Software as a Service, Cloud and Web 2.0 solutions.
On a radical note, we are seeing some early signs that companies are looking to use social media/web 2.0 technologies to address business issues that were previously assigned to BI. These lighter weight technologies handle tacit information and semi-structured process support better than BI solutions that rely on structured and standardized information.
The availability of light weight substitutes and the ability of social technologies to tackle some of the tougher problems will force BI the technology to give way to Business Intelligence the capability, reducing BI’s position as a top technology priority but raising its importance to enterprise performance.
So is BI dead?
Yes, death to just thinking about the technology
Long lives the capability !