Recently, there has been a lot of back and forth between Gartner and enterprise BI vendors regarding Gartner BI magic quadrant for 2016. For those who do not know of Gartner magic quadrant, it is a market research report that aims to provide a qualitative analysis of BI market and its direction. It analyses the market maturity and rates the vendors accordingly. It is a highly regarded research work and along with a couple of other independent studies, influences the direction for analytics.
In their latest paper, Gartner talks about the changing trends in analytics and the power shift from IT-led enterprise reporting to business-led self-service analytics. According to Gartner this shift has reached the tipping point and now most of new buying is of business-user-centric platforms. At Emtec, we see the same trend as well. User enablement and self-service analytics is a high priority for all of our customers as well. We agree with Gartner that analytical agility is a must for businesses to react to fast changing business and economic conditions.
However, we at Emtec, strongly believe in the balanced analytics approach where analytic agility is strongly supported by enterprise governance. In fact, Gartner’s bi-modal IT approach supports this as well. We advise our clients on establishing an analytics culture that allows users to get to their data quickly and easily without relying heavily on IT. However, we also believe that a single version of the truth across the whole organization is a must. Data silos are sometimes inevitable, but analytical silos can be counterproductive and should be avoided or at least, closely monitored.
Here are the five reasons why we believe Enterprise BI is still relevant:
Single version of the truth is as important as analytical agility
Holy Grail of all information systems is to achieve single, undisputed version of the truth across the whole organization. Standard definitions for business terms and calculations that provide same set of results to all users running similar reports is the first step in achieving the analytics maturity for any organization. Enterprise BI ensures that standards are maintained across the organization to achieve one version of the truth for all users.
360-degree view of the entire organization
Data silos are inevitable. As organizations grow, new data silos are created. Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) can’t always keep up with the volume and velocity of data in a dynamic organization. However, it is important for users to get answers to their business questions without worrying about the underlying data layers. And this is what a well implemented enterprise analytics system provides. It interconnects data silos to make sure that a single question is answered by a single query, rather than running individual reports against several data silos and then stitching the results together manually.
Centralized governance ensures data quality
With the advancements in data visualization tools, bring-your-own-data (BYOD) is getting a lot of attention these days. It provides a quick way for users to load their personal set of data with enterprise data to perform quick analysis. They don’t have to wait for IT to create a data model and don’t have to worry about a review process before this data can be integrated in the mainstream. While this is a quick and easy way to perform personal analysis, it is not a replacement for enterprise analytics. Any data that is shared across organization should go through a complete governance process to ensure that single version of the truth is intact.
One of the big advantages of enterprise BI system is that if implemented correctly, it provides the foundation for a scalable enterprise solution that can start with one business group but can expand to serve the whole organization without needing to change the fundamental design. A good enterprise BI system is like a hub and spoke model where multiple data sources can connect to provide a cross functional view of the organization with a uniform user interface for all users. This model provides centrally governed system that can provide an information backbone where all data sources can be plugged in to serve larger business community
One of the keys to the sustainable analytics culture in an organization is to ensure that IT and business are the equal stakeholders. Both have equal responsibilities towards making analytics successful. We advise our clients to form the analytics enablement committee (AEC) as the first step in the journey of analytics. AEC is comprised of both IT and business folks and it defines strategies for maintainable BI system. Enterprise BI plays a key role in helping AEC implement sustainable BI practices across organization with standards and governance. On the other hand, multiple BI silos are not only hard to maintain, but are usually implemented to serve the needs of a smaller group within the organization, and are not sustainable in long run.
So while we agree with Gartner that analytic agility and self-service analytics model is the way to go forward, we believe that both agility and self-service should be strongly supported by an analytic culture that promotes governance, scalability and a sustainable BI system that is capable of providing comprehensive analytics without creating BI silos within organization.