‘The three musketeers’ in the BI world

The three inseparable requirements that is increasingly being looked at in the BI world are ‘Agility’, ‘Scale’ and ‘Self-Service’.

To start with, let me define these terms.

  • ‘Agility’ is the speed with which the data platform is made available for analysis and its ability to respond to changes in the analysis requirements from Business.
  • ‘Scale’ is the ability for the data platform to scale with the data volumes.
  • ‘Self-Service’ is the ability for the Business to self-service their data and analytical needs from the platform with no or minimal support from the IT team.

I am using data and analytical platform interchangeably as the end goal of the platform is to support business in deriving relevant insights from the data.

The oft stated stats in BI world is that 70-80% BI projects fail! When we say ‘fail’,  we mean Business does not find it relevant any more. There are two simple reasons for it (a)the methodology adopted does not deliver the product( a warehouse or a BI solution) on time (b) the product being built is not flexible enough to accommodate changes from the users. Both of these point to the ‘agility’ aspects. As business mature from a typical ‘reporting’ need (where data points are listed upfront) to ‘BI’  (where business are more exploring for relevant data points), we need to get the product to Business fast. This enables us to ‘fail fast’ and build it relevant for Business use.

Let us look at ‘Self-Service’ next as it is closely linked to agility but still a distinct requirement. The lack of agility from IT has left Business to fend for themselves. The result has been tools that enable Business to pull data from different source databases, profile , cleanse, integrate, query and build analytical models atleast at a smaller scale if not at production scale. This gives them the confidence to use the data and the models before they get it built to a production scale by the IT.

Lastly, handling the ‘Scalability’ aspects. With the stats showing that the data volumes have doubled in the last two years and we are talking about a whopping 40,000 exabytes, or 40 trillion gigabytes by 2020, we need the ability for our technical infrastructures to scale.  When we talk about scalability we mean the ability to deliver consistent and predictable performance with increasing data volumes.

Now for the ‘three musketeers’ bit (‘One for all, and all for one’) – Agility is the only means to make BI relevant to Business. Self-Service ability lets Business make a head-start into the BI process with IT delivering the rest. The above supported by a ‘Scalable’ platform let’s the BI project see the light of the day!

In my subsequent posts, I will review some of the relevant tools and technologies that support each of these areas….We will also see how we can leverage our skills to deliver solutions in these areas.