Business Intelligence & Data Warehousing – Too Much Hype: 11 for 2011

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It’s time for another business intelligence and data warehousing “hype” list. What industry trends are being hyped by pundits, analysts, columnists and vendors as though they are going to solve world hunger?

It’s time for another business intelligence and data warehousing “hype” list. What industry trends are being hyped by pundits, analysts, columnists and vendors as though they are going to solve world hunger?

Most things on this list are not bad and are probably quite useful. In fact, there are many things here that I use myself. But I bet that you, too, feel that some of these are being over-promoted. Let me know what you think, and if you have any to add.

Too Much Hype 11 for ’11 (and the Dave Mathews Band songs they bring to mind)

1.    Cloud computing for business intelligence (BI) and data integration (DI) – “Too Much”
The cloud is everywhere, especially in the press. I use cloud computing every day. I believe it will eventually be more pervasive – just like client/server in the early 1990s and the Web in the 2000s. In the short run, however, cloud computing can’t provide everything. Business intelligence and data integration are key areas that will lag other categories. The exception will be BI and DI interacting with cloud-based applications.

2.    No data integration needed – “The Space Between”
This is not my perpetual overhyped list. Each new generation of products always claims to be able to do data integration in minutes. Data is dirty, inconsistent, scattered in silos and not documented. Any person that has ever tried to provide business analysis in an enterprise understands the only people who would pitch this are those who have never really worked in the business before.

3.    Mobile BI – “So Much to Say”
A vendor offering mobile BI told me once that a smart phone screen is just too small to interact with a dashboard or graphics. My response was Duh! (At least mentally.) An iPad is a different story, but most analysts and large corporations will still be using notebooks, netbooks or desktops in order to really slice and dice data.

4.    Pervasive BI – “Ants Marching”
This is like the quest for the Holy Grail. It depends what your definition of pervasive is. Many people are using BI today, but to be truly pervasive BI has to be much more cost-effective and be able to be deployed more quickly. This remains elusive and the key stumbling block to pervasive BI.

5.    Self-service BI – “Where Are You Going”
The sales pitches are everywhere: business users can have self-service BI and never need IT again. Although it initially sounds appealing to frustrated business people, ask yourself this:  How many business people really want to spend their time creating dashboards and OLAP reports? In addition, any claim to self-service BI needs a disclaimer that it is possible only if all your data has been integrated and cleansed, and is consistent.

6.    MDM – “ I Did It”
MDM might be pervasive if proposed projects didn’t cost millions of dollars and take years to implement.  In addition, the real critical success factor for MDM is people, process, and politics. MDM will have a big impact on companies when:

  • expectations match reality
  • companies come to grips with the ongoing business commitment necessary
  • vendors stop pitching technology-only solutions
  • solutions are reasonably priced

7.    No SQL – “Stay (Wasting Time)”
Pundits are confusing the complexity of integrating data with the use of SQL. Enterprise business data is complex because business processes and their relationships are complex. Relational databases are a symptom of that complexity, not the cause. Sorry, but the world of data is complex and no amount of wishful thinking (or avoiding SQL) is going to change that.

8.    Lower TCO (total cost of ownership) – “Save Me”
Everyone is looking for a bargain, but the phrase “you can’t save money unless you spend money” comes to mind when I hear vendor sales pitches for lower TCO. Remember, TCO includes the price of hardware, software, people and the time spent in implementing or replacing something. I’d be surprised if most projects that alleged lower TCU don’t actually raise overall costs.

9.    BIG Data – “Funny The Way It Is”
What is this?  Ask 10 vendors and you get 10 answers (based on what they are selling). This can be a trend if somebody can define it.

10.    Pure technology solutions – “Crash Into Me”
Many vendors and pundits suggest that products will solve problems like data governance, data quality and data integration with pure technology solutions. The pitch is that IT doesn’t have to spend time talking to business people to understand business and data relationships and rules. The reality is that if you don’t talk to the business people you won’t understand what they need. Tools only implement what you understand.

11.    Real-time BI – “Why I Am”
Let’s separate real-time access to data from true real-time business intelligence. Although it’s easy to access data it’s quite another thing to analyze data in real-time. The question remains how many business people could really use real-time data to operate or manage their business.

If you are just tired of listening to vendors and pundits then listen to “You & Me.” We’ll discuss the hype in more detail in later posts.

Fyi: all songs by the Dave Matthews Band (DMB)

See my earlier hype lists:

Business Intelligence & Data Warehousing Fizzles (Too Much Hype): 9 for ’09

Business Intelligence & Data Warehousing Hype: 8 for ’08

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