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Chris Gerrard – Exploring the world of Better Business Intelligence

Note on the IBM Cognos – Solution Implementation Method

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A recently created discussion in the LinkedIn Business Intelligence group (here) prompted this note.

The original blog is favorable towards the IBM Cognos – Solution Implementation Method (C-SIM). This note disagrees and argues that C-SIM is in fact detrimental to the delivery of effective, high quality, valuable BI that really does help the business.

The overarching problem with C-SIM is its assumption that a BI “solution” is a discrete, finite thing amenable to the traditional Analyze–Design–Configure&Build–Deploy–Operate approach to building fixed-function software systems whose functionality is determinable prior to its construction.

C-SIM is a very poor model for delivering BI solutions. Its history is littered with embarrassingly low rates of delivering even reasonable levels of business value in the form of meaningful, timely, valuable data-based business information and insights.

You may ask yourself: “That’s a pretty bold claim. How can I evaluate it?”
I’m glad you asked.

Here’s a threshold test one should ask of any potential BI vendor partner: “How quickly will I or one of the other business stakeholders get valuable information from my business data?”
In the case of C-SIM a reasonable follow-on is: “Show me in your method/project plans the earliest point at which this happens.”

If your C-SIM vendor partner cannot or will not answer, stumbles, fumbles, hems or haws there’s a very large problem on your near horizon, should you choose to go down that path.

There’s a bright spot: C-SIM does have real value.

It’s attractive for large BI resource vendors because it’s road-mapped well into the future, and provides a firm framework for dedicating the amount of resources—people, and technology—that can be assigned to the elaborate project tasks structure, guaranteeing predictable revenue streams. It’s hard to argue with the Big BI resource vendors that their model isn’t working when it’s generating $Billions in revenue; their position boils down to: “Of course, it’s working. look at all the money our clients are paying us.” (A cynic might say that the method is only valuable for providing the revenues that the Big BI consulting company principals’ fortunes are built upon, and that they get to keep whether or not the business clients get the information and insights they’ve paid for.)

Although, with the increasing media awareness that Big BI initiatives are largely not delivering upon their promises, and the emergence of Agility in the practice of BI, along with 5 years of experience with tools like Tableau, Spotfire, QlikView, and their cousins, the tide might be changing.

Written by Chris Gerrard

February 10, 2012 at 8:09 am

Posted in Bad BI, Big BI, Enterprise BI

Tagged with , , , ,

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