TDWI Roundup: BI Bake Off on the Beach? - InformationWeek

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8/27/2008
08:56 AM
Cindi Howson
Cindi Howson
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TDWI Roundup: BI Bake Off on the Beach?

Back from sunny San Diego, place of TDWI's annual world conference. I kicked off my week with a birds-of-a-feather networking event. The most popular table? The business-IT partnership, which also happens to be one of the top barriers/enablers to BI success. The different perspectives - and just how polar opposites they could be - bordered on amusing.

Back from sunny San Diego, place of TDWI's annual world conference.

I kicked off my week with a birds-of-a-feather networking event. The most popular table? The business-IT partnership, which also happens to be one of the top barriers/enablers to BI success (according to research from my book). The different perspectives - and just how polar opposites they could be - bordered on amusing.• A business person blamed IT for not being on the latest version of their dashboard software. • Someone from IT countered the business keeps changing its mind about priorities!

On Tuesday I taught "Evaluating BI Toolsets" with a "BI Bake Off" with Business Objects, Cognos, and SAS participating. We did something new this time, with attendees voting, on each demo topic, which product best met their needs. It was a colorful display of voting cards, with no one vendor or product having a clean sweep. That kind of squashes the belief that BI tools are at all commoditized; instead, it's a matter of best fit and the differences being in the details.

One new vendor I met up with was eThority. In truth, they aren't new to the BI world, but I had not heard of them before. A colleague suggested I take a look at them, describing them as seeming to combine the best of QlikTech and Tableau. I can't confirm or deny that spin, but there were some differences that certainly have piqued my interest. First, they started in the BI industry 15 years ago with probably the toughest of user groups: medical schools. It reminded me of a quote from one of the skeptics I interviewed for the book, an MD who declared BI has to be as easy as picking up a piece of paper. That's a tall order, and yet, one of eThority's tenants is that their tool has to be "user ridiculously obvious." The other difference that caught my attention was the corporate philosophy and employee retention. One person mentioned she would be telecommuting, from another state. And another commented on the early morning jogs the CEO insisted upon while at the conference. Such corporate culture seems a rarity in the cut-throat environment of Silicon Valley.

So indeed, I stared longingly at the waterfront of San Diego bay, and asked my class who among them had skipped the exhibit hall for a stroll outside during the lunch break. None! Can you believe it? I think we were all too intent on grilling the vendors exhibiting. Next time, I'm doing the bake off outside. Definitely.

Sincerely,

Cindi Howson Founder, BIScorecardBack from sunny San Diego, place of TDWI's annual world conference. I kicked off my week with a birds-of-a-feather networking event. The most popular table? The business-IT partnership, which also happens to be one of the top barriers/enablers to BI success. The different perspectives - and just how polar opposites they could be - bordered on amusing.

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