Feb 10 2011   9:20PM GMT

More and more, business users call the shots on BI tools, Gartner says

Linda Tucci Linda Tucci Profile: Linda Tucci

Consumerization. Polarization. Popular uprisings against top-down control. Entrenched leaders scrambling to make amends.

In Gartner Inc.’s latest Magic Quadrant on BI tools, the world of business intelligence doesn’t look so different from the world at large.

According to the annual ranking (available for free from BI vendorMicroStrategy Inc., if you’re willing to register), business users increasingly are calling the shots on BI purchases. In defiance of IT departments, they are opting for easier-to-use, analytics-rich data discovery tools over the traditional enterprise BI platforms favored by IT, even at the risk of creating more data silos than ever. They want interfaces that are simple and fun to use, and mobile-ready. For the first time in Gartner’s research (based on 1,225 responses from vendor customers), “ease of use” surpassed “functionality” as the dominant buying criterion for BI platforms.

What’s so new about this? We’ve been hearing about the democratization of BI for a long time. If you buy the Gartner research, last year the struggle intensified between business users’ need for ease of use and flexibility versus IT’s need for standards and control. The chasm between traditional BI enterprise platforms and data discovery platforms deepened.

Gartner’s advice to CIOs amid the brewing revolution? Step away from ideology and take a realpolitik approach:

“This [chasm] has accentuated the need for IT organizations to back away from a single-minded pursuit of standardization on one vendor, to a more pragmatic portfolio approach. Specifically, IT has been challenged to put in place new enterprise information management architecture; development methodologies; and governance processes that accommodate and bridge the gap between the different buying centers, architectures, deployment approaches and use cases of both segments into an enterprise BI portfolio that can meet both business user and enterprise requirements.”

Or, to paraphrase the immortal advice of old flattop, “Come together, right now, over BI.” That goes for vendors too. In Gartner’s view, the vendors that are going to prevail are the ones who can figure out how to bridge the gap.

I’m going to take the analysis at face value, and investigate whether the great divide is true, and if so, what IT needs to do –and has done — to bridge it.

If you have a story to tell about bridging the gap, please let me know. We’ll call it an antipolarization series on BI.

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  • DBAndJ2EEInstruction
    Business Intelligence 101: In "The Fugitive" Dr Kimball breaks into local hospital to steal records of his nemesis who has a prosthetic arm. Is this a legal use of Business Intelligence? In "Miami Vice" episode Tubbs goes to Police HQ and steals file on suspected LatinAmerican Drug King to curry favor? Is this a legal use of Business Intelligencel? What about warantless wireshark interceptions..and the interceptor uses this information for their own profit or gain.. Is this a legal use of Business Intelligence? Bud Fox from the movie "Wall Street" joined a cleaning service and rifled thru company files to acquire insider trade information on that company.. Is thisa legal use of Business Intelligence? If IT has collected information from public domain then IT will be off the hook. We have seen where unscrupulous execs from AIG, Citigroup, Enron and Madoff Associates colored their reports from untrue and manufactured Business Intelligence details. In these cases using Business Intelligence in these manner will come back and haunt the stockholders..and if left unchecked and unreported may haribinger the demise of the organisation..
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