The term business intelligence and its acronym BI are so pervasive in today’s data-intensive lexicon that it’s a challenge to know just what to make of it.
If you add in all the new trendy terminology such as business process management, data mining, data warehousing, business process automation, decision support systems, query and reporting systems, enterprise performance management, executive information systems, business activity monitoring, modeling and visualization, and so forth, your head can start spinning.
Here is a workable definition of BI that was provided in a Technology Evaluation report from a January 10, 2005, Technology Evaluation Centers article by Mukhles Zaman entitled, “Business Intelligence: Its Ins and Outs”: “BI is neither a product nor a system. It is an umbrella term that combines architectures, applications, and databases. It enables the real-time, interactive access, analysis, and manipulation of information, which provides the business community with easy access to business data.”
I will attempt to dispel some myths and offer some guidance on how to make the right purchasing and implementation decisions for your business.
Myth #1 – You really need a cube-based OLAP BI solution
Many vendors want you to believe that in order to make the best possible business decisions, your small to midsized company needs a full-fledged cube-based OLAP or on-line analytical processing BI solution that delivers real time, up to the nanosecond data.
Sure, this makes sense if you are a Fortune 1000 company with numerous divisions and databases and highly complex reporting requirements. Oh, and you’ve got mega-bucks to spend on trying out different BI solutions that will take a long time to implement and much more time to learn and use. We know that a cube-based OLAP tool does enable end-users to slice and dice their data, perform multi-dimensional analysis, present information in graphs and charts, and more.
Myth #2 – You really need expensive, industrial-strength analytics to make informed business decisions.
Make no mistake – having access to an analytics tool can be a very powerful component of your BI plan. Analytics enable end users to transform data into information and then get that information into the right hands and in the correct format to facilitate timely decision-making. This can help companies increase customer satisfaction, decrease costs, and increase revenues. However, there is a misconception that SMB companies must invest a small fortune in industrial-strength analytics.
Myth #3 – You need to toss out all your spreadsheets
With all the high-priced applications now available in the fragmented BI marketplace, it’s easy to see why many vendors would scoff at the idea that your basic Microsoft Office Suite is quite adequate as a key component of your BI solution. They don’t want you to know that the most widely used BI tool today is an Excel spreadsheet.
Almost everyone in the corporate world is familiar with Excel, its minimal learning curve, and the fact that the application leverages a company’s existing software solutions.
Myth #4 – You really need to invest in a BI solution to achieve airtight compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley
The Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002, also known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, only applies only to U.S. public companies. There is no software application certification provided under the act.If you are concerned with Sarbanes-Oxley compliance there are software tools that you can utilize in concert with proper management of your internal processes, for reporting, auditing, and disclosure.
Jean Huy is senior director of product marketing for Sage North America.
Contact 866-996-7243 or SageNASolutions@sage.com