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Cookie Cutter Approach to BI Won't Cut It

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Posted December 8, 2010 By Ann All     Feedback

With all of the new business intelligence tools and technologies available, it doesn't make sense to use a single approach to BI.

I interviewed Cindi Howson, founder of the BI Scorecard and author of "Successful Business Intelligence: Secrets to Making BI a Killer App," about a year ago. The conversation stuck with me because she made what I thought was a great point: With all of the new business intelligence (BI) tools and technologies available, it doesn't make sense to use a single approach to BI.

To achieve the right balance between innovation and effectiveness, she advised, companies should take an enterprise approach to things that are common and won't change frequently, such as hardware, software, master data, procedures and best practices, while allowing individual business units to build their own applications and their own reports to access departmental-specific data.

Earlier this week Howson published a piece on this topic in InformationWeek. Many companies will likely soon revisit the question of whether to standardize on a single kind of BI because mega vendors SAP, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have all released major versions of their products, she wrote. CIOs tend to be fans of BI standardization, perhaps because it seems easier to control costs and obtain a more cohesive view of data.

Yet this "simplistic" approach probably won't be effective, at least for large enterprises with sophisticated data analysis requirements, wrote Howson. It ignores emerging tools from smaller and more specialized vendors, a number of which are listed in the article. Smart companies will periodically reassess their BI needs and consider adding new tools that can satisfy them. Wrote Howson:

... BI standardization is good when you are trying to rationalize overlapping, redundant capabilities. It's a bad strategy when companies assume a one-size-fits-all approach and fail to consider how technology and user requirements change. ...

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