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BI needs dose of reality

Knowing a company's BI maturity and mating it to BI capability is a vital first step, says Glen Ansell, sales director at YoungBlood Consultants.

Knowing a company's BI maturity and mating it to BI capability is a vital first step, says Glen Ansell, sales director at YoungBlood Consultants.

An understanding of where an organisation's business intelligence (BI) maturity relates to its BI capability is intended to inform strategy around BI deployment and enable companies to plan their BI future with a realistic match between expectation and ability.

This is according to Glen Ansell, sales director at YoungBlood Consultants.

"Too many organisations over-reach their capacity, or believe in the tool hype, or deploy inappropriate solutions. This wastes money and effort, and it's bad for the reputation of the BI discipline and those responsible professionals who do achieve success," he adds.

On this note, YoungBlood Consultants, in partnership with ITWeb, is conducting an online Business Intelligence Benchmarking survey during March to gain valuable insight into the maturity of BI strategies within South African organisations.

Ansell believes there are a few reasons many BI projects fail. 

"One of these reasons is hyped expectations − usually sponsored by an empire-building individual − that are incompatible with the ability or desire of business role-players to embrace or use the results. Another reason is quick fixes that provide momentary insights but not one consistent truth, usually marketed as a silver bullet by software vendors."

Ansell also points out endless implementations have the ability to destroy BI credibility in the search for the Holy Grail of perfection, and he says this is ironically usually as a consequence of fear of failure by the technologists.

When asked the importance of measuring performance, Ansell says the conventional wisdom stands that if you can't measure it, you can't manage it because you can't reward or punish.

"The deeper reality is that with most people, the desirable behaviour is produced as a result of measurement itself, not as a consequence of reward for performance. So measurement provides a consistent framework within which people make their home and gear their efforts.

"The implication is that the same (or very similar) outcomes need to be measured year after year to provide that home, which in turn enables ‘spicy' measurements to be introduced with a good expectation of success and the consequent achievement culture. Most performance measurement projects and practitioners ignore these more subtle realities."

Ansell stresses that benchmarks of any kind contain seeds of wisdom and guidance but are of momentary interest in themselves.

"We would like to re-energise the BI disciplines that deal with the tension between achieving real business benefit and making risk manageable. Knowing your BI maturity and mating it to your BI capability is a vital first step," Ansell concludes.

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