Do “big” business intelligence companies understand analytics? Blogger Stephen Few wonders that in a recent posting, “Big BI (Business Intelligence) is Stuck: Illustrated by SAP BusinessObjects Explorer.”
Few makes the case that the larger, older business intelligence vendors haven’t made the transition from building data warehousing solutions to building systems that address “data sense-making.” He argues “data sense-making (also known as analytics) requires … an approach that leads with design, not engineering, and focuses on people, their needs and abilities, not technology.” In essence business intelligence is no longer about serving up (or providing access to) data, but about proving a complete solution (people, process and technology) for analytics-based decision-making.
Definitely check out Few’s post; it takes a fresh look at business intelligence and analytics. For example, Few cites an example that spotlights a differentiator between business intelligence and analytics. The example demonstrates that while business intelligence does deliver a “single version of the truth,” the business issue is more about the varying views on what the “truth” is.
While Few does take an aggressive stance against traditional business intelligence, it is important to note he also states, “Don’t mistake what I’ve written as a case against Big Business Intelligence in favor of Small Business Intelligence. It is entirely possible for large business intelligence vendors to provide effective tools for data sense-making. To do this, they need to switch from a technology-centric engineering-focused approach to a human centric design-focus approach, and base their efforts on a deep understanding of data sense-making.”
The blog posting also goes into detail on Few’s colleague Bryan Pierce’s hands-on experience with a tool from a Big Business Intelligence vendor. Pierce was evaluating the tool not on business intelligence data access, but on the “new paradigm” of data-sense making (analytics).
Few and Pierce conclude that Big Business Intelligence tools are “struggling to catch up with human-centered, design-focused companies like Tableau and Spotfire, which are running circles around them…”
Our takeaway? Companies evaluating business intelligence tools should consider if the business need is data access or analytics-driven decision making.
Spotfire Blogging Team