Skills shortage driving BI demand

Australian companies are keen to deploy business intelligence (BI) software because it reduces the need for as many skilled workers, according to Business Objects.

Australian companies are keen to deploy business intelligence (BI) software because it reduces the need for as many skilled workers, according to Business Objects.

Australia was one of the earliest adopters of BI in the Asia Pacific region, according to Keith Budge, Business Objects' senior vice president and general manager of Asia-Pacific and Japan.

"Australia, without question, is going to be the fastest EPM [enterprise performance management] market in the region," he added.

Budge said that organisations have been quick to implement scorecards, planning, budgeting and active costing software -- a trend he believes will continue.

According to Budge, although Australia represents only two percent of the technology market, it accounts for a significantly higher percentage of business intelligence spending.

He said this trend could reflect the skills shortage in the Australian market -- employee time being an expensive resource. BI, by allowing easy access to real time company information, can reduce the time spent by analysts on data queries.

Gartner analyst Neil McMurchy said that business intelligence tools can indeed save the time of skilled workers but deployments must be managed correctly: "If BI is set up properly ... it relieves IT from doing mundane report writing tasks," he told ZDNet Australia.

McMurchy added that the main issue with implementing such tools is change management. "Plenty of good technology implementations are struggling," and can tend to be "thrown over the wall to IT," he said.

Australian oil and gas producer Santos, which implemented the Business Objects' planning solution in February this year, claims to have realised substantial savings from the rollout.

According to Craig Metters, accounting services manager at Santos, improved efficiencies have enabled the company to save 10 working days for each of its 80 analysts -- a return on investment of 230 percent.

Metters said that take up of the new technology was swift and easy: only weekly meetings were needed to consolidate previous budgeting methods into a new model.

The issue of change management was also given a helping hand by the software, which allowed employees to continue using the programs and platforms they used previously -- meaning analysts can still enter their budgeting information in Excel.

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