Gartner BI Summit Mini – Summary

January 21, 2009

Not going to be a long post, this, but wanted to get a few things down. Will edit/append later with some info from other sessions. Look at my Twitter feed also for some snippets.

Keynote: ‘The BIg Discrepancy: Strategic BI, but no BI Strategy’

BI Analyst Techno with Andy Bitterer and Nigel Rayner AKA Star Schema.  BI-related refrains to the sound of banging techno with an ‘Every Breath You Take’ melody.

Once again, BI is #1 on CIO agenda.  This has been the case since 2006, but not much further along.  This is more due to human factors than BI tools. Many organizations don’t appear to have a strategy for BI and there are still problems in the following areas:

  • Governance
  • Standards
  • Trust
  • Skills
  • Definitions

Still a lot of silo thinking and a proliferation of tools.  Adding that to internal politics leads to a heady mix.

A straw poll revealed only 15 hands from customers that had a formal BI strategy.  Some BI from Gartner is needed about how many customers were in the keynote, even an approximation would help.

Another key point was the ability of BI to support change, as well as the effects of making changes to variables.  BI must be able to adapt quickly to external conditions, such as the ability to optimize to cost reduction instead of revenue growth, for example.

I was left with the impression that the biggest problem is not the tools, but the bad craftsmen (in the nicest possible sense).

Another idea that BI Competency Centres would help to make BI initiatives succeed, since it would likely be tasked with addressing the problem areas above explicitly.

The next musing was why does IT often sell BI to the business, when it really should be the business users driving it.  One possible problem with business users creating BI requirements is that they may not know what is or isn’t possible, resorting to the comfort of reports when asked to define their own requirements. I suppose this is another plus point for a BI competency centre, which could serve the function of business user training and/or demonstration of the techniques and technologies available.

As a follow-on to this, the point was made that IT building BI systems in isolation, away from business users will very likely lead to failure.

This all reminds me of the work I did on ‘Expert Systems’ shells back in the early 90s, with the Knowledge Engineer (read IT BI person) and Domain Expert (read business user) working in conjunction. This was a pre-requisite of the approach, not a nice-to-have, as it seems to be with BI.

Unfortunately the web seems to have failed me for any really good references and solid examples of this, certainly none as detailed, iterative or collaborative as the processes we were using at IBIES back in 1992.

From Engelmore & Feigenbaum:

‘A knowledge engineer interviews and observes a human expert or a group of experts and learns what the experts know, and how they reason with their knowledge. The engineer then translates the knowledge into a computer-usable language, and designs an inference engine, a reasoning structure, that uses the knowledge appropriately’

I digress.

Then they went through the 2009 Predicts, which are available here.

I’ll probably add updates later, just wanted to get some info on the keynote down.

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