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Data & Intelligence

Call from Forrester for (un)balanced BI approach

A recent Forrester Research report loosely applies the 80/20 rule to a company’s BI environment. In this case, 80% of BI requests should be handled by users themselves while 20% should be handled by the IT-driven, enterprise-wide applications. This is a heavy swing that encourages the influx of self-service BI platforms. The primary reason for this shift is the growing demand for BI and the backlog these requests cause for IT. Forrester believes this is caused by these bottlenecks:

  • BI requirements change faster than an IT-centric support model can keep up
  • Conventional waterfall SDLC approaches are poorly suited for BI
  • Business and IT do not always see eye to eye on BI applications and projects

There is also an evolution in self-service BI experience. What was once imagined to be a drag-and-drop, point-and-click interaction has now shifted to subtle replication of the interfaces of Google and Facebook. The intent is that a “user-friendly” approach should be designed using interfaces users are already trained in and comfortable with. In the recent Forrester Wave “Self-Service BI Platforms, Q2 2012,” report, these were the primary capabilities evaluated:

  • Auto-modeling of raw data
  • Ability to create calculated measures and metrics on the fly
  • Collaboration between business users and IT staff
  • Data virtualization and drill anywhere
  • Prompting for columns at runtime
  • Search-like GUI
  • Application sandboxes
  • Write back for “what if” analysis
  • Exploration and discovery on raw, unmodeled data
  • Optional semantic layer
  • Migration of self-serviced BI app to production
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If applied, this 80/20 rule-of-thumb helps push adoption of self-service BI throughout companies. As these technologies are often not suited to provide integrated, enterprise-wide data, there is also less stress on tools being applied across departments. This allows for freedom between groups who are siloed with data to use tool-sets better designed for their specific business questions or personal preference. The result is a company is utilizing several self-service BI solutions as part of an overall strategy. This is beginning to sound a lot like the idea of an IT ecosystem

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