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The Business Intelligence speed boat - can New Zealand catch up?

Business Intelligence


14 Oct 2015

business intelligence speed boat

If Silicon Valley is a speed boat driving Business Intelligence (BI) forward, companies today are latched onto the rope that it’s dragging in the water. Some are closer to the boat than others, but just to forewarn you, the boat has already (note, not “about to” but “already”) done a 180 degree turn.

In fact the “BI Speed Boat” is heading the other way and unless we’re prepared, the oncoming whiplash is going to cast a number of companies off into deep waters . Some companies will notice the oncoming curvature of the rope too late and just let go before it hits – forcing themselves to believe it is just easier to stick with the old “monolithic” means of delivering BI to their organisations. Unfortunately, the outcome will be the same – three years down the line, those organisations will be painfully behind.

To escape my analogy (which was in danger of going on longer than was already too long), I am trying to more clearly define the BI landscape as we see it here in New Zealand.  To reference my analogy one more time (forgive me), in New Zealand we are (amongst first-world countries at least) very much at the end of “the rope being dragged by the boat”.  Now that is understandable, and not uncommon. While we are forward thinkers by nature, often seismic changes in a technological area permeates out through the world from its point of origin and let’s face it, New Zealand’s geographical location means we are typically close to last in this regard. With BI, it is even more the case due to the fact that a drastic change in direction conjures up thoughts of having to re-do all the work we’ve been doing over the past five (or more) years. Furthermore, we know existing environments intimately, and we feel confident about our abilities when working with them.  Change therefore, is seen at best as a risk, at worst, a risk to “my job”.

The change I refer to in the BI world is the move to cloud-based architectures and new ways of thinking that can now address the oldest BI conundrum. One that has challenged us when delivering BI back into the organisations we work for, well since it all began really. That is, to provide governance over centralised “enterprise” data while still offering agility and self-service to business users. And, doing this in a way that makes sure the integrity of the data remains intact.

Birst has recently received high accolades from Gartner for exactly this reason. Gartner terms the prevailing IT manifestation as  “bi-modal IT” while McKinsey coined the phrase “two-speed IT”. These terms refer to the fact that we now have a diverging audience to serve in IT. One wants accuracy, control and trust (in data) while the other wants speed, agility and the ability to “do it themselves”. Serving both of these audiences has proved difficult and indeed, most organisations have prioritised one and concentrated on servicing that audience alone. With SaaS applications like Birst the very nature of the underlying architecture allows for things not seen in legacy solutions. Birst’s virtual BI allows end users to combine their own relevant end user data with packages of data that will always remain in sync with the centralised pool of governed data. Essentially, this delivers trusted data to the executives along with agility and flexibility to the business.

At ViFX, we partner with Birst and are actively engaged with a number of organisations that are starting to “see the light”, but it would be disingenuous to portray a world where organisations are starting to knock the door down with enthusiasm. In Australia, Birst has had three record quarters, and their more recent signings show that enterprises in that part of the world have “clicked”. But they’re a full 18 months ahead of us.

When considering this we need to turn my analogy completely on it’s head to realise the advantage one could gain by being “ahead of the curve”. Those companies that can cotton on early, will have a significant advantage over those who merely “hang on for dear life” in the hope that their existing BI platforms will develop to cater for these needs. Unfortunately these hopes will be in vain, for the old monolithic solutions are simply too complex and too modular to “about-ship” and so, the sooner one starts to adopt this new way of thinking, the closer to the “speed boat” we can get. Apologies…I couldn’t resist.

How do you feel you are positioned for this paradigm shift? Let us know your thoughts below.

Author: James Coope

James seeks to understand the business drivers that are forcing technology transformations within New Zealand organisations. He specialises in Business Intelligence and Service Management.

14 October 2015 / 0 Comments