Recession’s benefits for BI

A recession would benefit business intelligence, say two industry experts I talked to last week.

Former TDWI education director Dave Wells sees new, leaner BI practices emerging. That will start with companies insisting that they do more BI with less money. “Decision makers will ask for speedier responses from BI teams while they keep team sizes the same. It’ll be uncomfortable, but it’s healthy.”

Doing more with less will make BI teams more focused and efficient. “The problem with BI today is that it has gone the way of all IT things: centralized, slow, expensive, and inefficient.” Only good can come from greater agility, faster delivery, and adoption of tools that remove the need for anyone between a business person and the data can only be good.

A data architect at a leading tech vendor who asked for anonymity foresees a new crop of data-friendly executives. Traditionally, “business people have pushed away the IT stuff,” he told me. “It’s not fun for them. Why muddy the water when IT doesn’t even support what we need? The IT guys get to play with toys and be smart and on top.” Organizations keep measuring old, irrelevant stuff, he said, and data quality problems get swept under the rug. All that leads to “BI that’s not believed.” The new people, he believes, will be more analysis savvy.

Those newly empowered, analysis-savvy executives probably have the same appetite for the big, expensive solutions, several experts predicted. Instead, decision makers will move to smaller tools. One person advocated “getting beyond Cognos and Business Objects” and move toward smaller tools like Polyvista and Tableau.


  1. Michael W Cristiani says:


    “decision makers will move to smaller tools. One person advocated ‘getting beyond Cognos and Business Objects’ and move toward smaller tools like Polyvista and Tableau.”

    As you know, we are evangelical in our support for Tableau Software, its mission, tools, and respect for both the discipline of BI and the needs of its customers. That said, we are also finding decision makers need actionable information faster, and tools that allow them the freedom to ask questions without getting on line for outside (IT) help.

    This market is huge! At the VAST ’08 conference this week in Columbus, OH (did I miss you there?), Tableau CEO Christian Chabot delivered a brilliant keynote about the future of visual analytics in business, and dispelled many myths about the scale of the demand for elegantly architected analytics tools that anyone can use for any purpose against any data store.

    We have found in working with our clients that that this claim from the Tableau web site home page is more than true about their software, and gets it exactly right about what businesses and non-profits, and governments, etc., want and need from BI, namely:

    “fast analytics + visualization for everyone
    “Easy. Fast. Fun. Business intelligence software that makes you and your organization work smarter. No deployment. No waiting. Just incredible ROI. Start analyzing your data like never before.”

    Thanks, Ted, for engendering hope in these “troubled” times.

    Peace and All Good!
    Michael W Cristiani
    Market Intelligence Group, LLC

  2. Hi Ted — I completely agree. When the tech bubble burst in 2001, BI was one of the only software segments that continued to see revenue growth (granted, the growth slowed compared to 1999 and 2000, but their revenues still did grow after the bubble collapsed whereas almost all other software segments shrank.)

    People are again definitely looking for innovative ways that let them do more with less. For a lot of people, this seems like trying to get blood from a stone. But as we learned when the tech bubble burst in 2001, BI is one of the most effective ways to look at what’s working and what isn’t so you can focus your energies on those activities that give you the biggest bang for the buck. For example, for sales management, identifying which types of deals result in the best win rates, shortest sales cycles, and largest deal sizes is the only way you can get more revenue out of your existing sales team and existing pipeline. You can’t get this insight from your CRM system, but you can with a BI solution.

    But the days of big, complicated BI implementations are gone. People need solutions NOW — they don’t want a big toolset that IT has to implement and maintain. This is behind the recent surge in interest in On-Demand BI solutions like LucidEra. You can get the insight you need to figure out how to do more with less, get that insight in a few days (instead of a few quarters), and at a fraction of the traditional cost of BI solutions.

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