It’s Not About The Tools!

In Business Intelligence (BI), it isn’t about the tools you use. It’s about the information that helps people in our organizations know the next most important, most profitable thing to go DO.

Any decent set of tools will work fine. Don’t start your BI program with a tool selection effort. It should be all about the business, and how to drive value. Tools will come and go. The business value is what will be there for the long haul.

A while back I had the chance to visit the company where I built my first data warehouse. It is a “tiny little division” of a great big greeting card company. Using much the same star schema that we developed back in about 1995, they had added almost immeasurable business value over the years. They were doing it right. While they had added some new tools to the old iSeries (AS/400) server, mostly in the form of Microsoft Analysis Services, their focus is always on the business.

The data model wasn’t perfect. The Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) code was custom-written in RPG. They didn’t have every latest data visualization/reporting tool. But they have very happy and appreciative users, who are increasing sales, reducing costs, and freeing up cash every day – even 15 years later. I think their secret is that IT has worked REALLY HARD over the years to align with the business, and make sure they are delivering business value all the time.

What can each of us do today, that builds on this great example?

David Fields

Principal of Solve. Directs our Northwest Arkansas team. Works closely with clients to identify, scope, and manage engagements that improve business results through Business Intelligence and Custom Application Development.