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10/12/2007
09:38 AM
Neil Raden
Neil Raden
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More Misinformation from the MIS Crowd

CIO Insight's October, 2007 report "How Valuable Is Business Intelligence to the Enterprise?" is another example of so-called research that makes no sense. The most curious aspect of this survey was that the respondents were all IT people. For my money, if you want to know how BI is doing, you should ask the people who use it (or don't use it)... The beginning of the article states, "72 percent say their BI efforts have had a major and measurable impact on their companies' bottom lines." This is

Okay, so no one has used the term "MIS" (Management Information Systems) in years, but there was no way to work "IT" into the title with misinformation. I always used to laugh, by the way, when before the current CHIEF craze (CEO, CFO, CIO, CMO, CTO, etc.), the head of IT was often called the MIS Manager. The qualification for the job was, appropriately, being skilled in MIS management. CIO Insight's October, 2007 report "How Valuable Is Business Intelligence to the Enterprise?" is another example of so-called research that makes no sense. The most curious aspect of this survey was that the respondents were all IT people. For my money, if you want to know how BI is doing, you should ask the people who use it (or don't use it).At the beginning of the article, it clearly states, "72 percent say their BI efforts have had a major and measurable impact on their companies' bottom lines." This is a classic softball question. When you consider that significantly less than 72 percent of companies have had a major, measurable positive impact on their bottom lines in the past three to five years, does this imply that BI can have a major negative affect? I'm pretty sure that isn't what they meant, which is why the survey results have me scratching my head given some other "facts" unearthed in the same study. For example: - 57 percent say that poor data quality is significantly diminishing the value of their BI efforts - The most commonly used BI tool is the spreadsheet (67 percent) - 58 percent agreed that, "Many users of our BI systems misinterpret or ignore the information it provides because they do not understand how to analyze or interpret it." This last point corresponds almost exactly to a survey we did a few years ago, only it was the users of BI who said lack of understanding of the data was a major shortcoming of BI implementations. But you have to ask yourself the question, how can BI be so successful (72 percent major impact) with all of these other scores? The answer lies in the way the questions are asked. That first, broad question about positive impact is almost like asking someone if they'd like more money or more pie. Of course the answer will be slanted, especially when you ask those who are responsible for delivering the solution. It's pretty silly, but it makes news. The only conclusion I can draw form this survey is that IT executives of large firms are more optimistic about their BI efforts than their counterparts in small companies. But based on my experience, they are too distant from the actual work that people do to assess this properly. In our own surveys, we find a very different picture, where BI is making only slow and marginal inroads into the current standard of practice, which is Excel.

Neil Raden is the founder of Hired Brains, providers of consulting, research and analysis in Business Intelligence, Performance Management, real-time analytics and information/semantic integration. Neil is co-author of the just-released book "Smart Enough Systems," with business rules expert James Taylor.CIO Insight's October, 2007 report "How Valuable Is Business Intelligence to the Enterprise?" is another example of so-called research that makes no sense. The most curious aspect of this survey was that the respondents were all IT people. For my money, if you want to know how BI is doing, you should ask the people who use it (or don't use it)... The beginning of the article states, "72 percent say their BI efforts have had a major and measurable impact on their companies' bottom lines." This is a classic softball question...

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