Forget talk of Web 2.0, it's time for BI 2.0, according to Gartner. The analyst group has laid out its case for improving the use of business intelligence in enterprises.
Speaking at the Gartner BI Summit at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on Tuesday, Gartner vice president for research, Andreas Bitterer, said the next generation of business intelligence (BI) would be defined by what it was not.
To begin with, BI 2.0 is not about more suppliers, said Bitterer. "There are too many BI vendors," he explained.
In addition, the sheer number of vendors brings problems for users, added the Gartner analyst. "You cannot get one vendor's software to work with another's," he said. "They do not make it easy." Many vendors deliberately create these incompatibilities to protect their market, Bitterer charged, and this "is understandable, but not helpful". He explained: "There is simply too much software out there from different vendors."
Gartner's annual CIO survey showed that BI is still an important subject in the minds of senior IT managers. BI was number-one for the second year in a row while, perhaps surprisingly, ERP (enterprise resource planning) lay in second place. Changes to servers that involved the adoption of virtualisation moved into second place, while the related field of the modernisation of legacy technology was in fourth.
Commenting on the survey, Bitterer said, managers must understand that "BI is not a project, it doesn't have an end as such". BI is a continuous process within companies in order for it to be of "any value", he said.
One of the most important points that organisations had to understand was the issue of "dirty data", or information that was added incorrectly to begin with or had been corrupted. While it is acknowledged as an issue, according to Bitterer, organisations "underestimate the size of the issue".
"Dirty data is not an exception," he said. "There is not a company on the planet that does not have a data problem."
Apart from the data issue, other pet hates of Bitterer included "management by Excel", which he felt limited thinking about some of the possibilities available through BI, and the question of who is looking after a company's data.
Organisations need "data stewards" said Bitterer, people who are responsible for policing the collection and storage of data, and it was "essential" that they were not the most senior people in a company, but people who understood the data and where and how it was collected.