A short story on my car history
The first automobile I ever drove was an instructor car with a brake pedal in the passenger seat. The instructor could literally slam on the breaks if we got into trouble. After I got my license, my mom let me drive her v8 Dodge Durango whenever I needed to get somewhere. Due to inexperience (and perhaps overconfidence with all that horsepower), I almost wrecked it a few times. My uncle then loaned me his 1989 Chevy S10 pickup. It got the job done, but I had to deal with flaking paint, no A/C, and poor steering.
When I graduated from high school, my mom helped me buy a 2002 Jeep Liberty Sport. I loved that car, and it served me well for many years. But when gas prices surged in 2006, 19 mpg and an 80-mile round-trip commute drove my fuel costs to $400-$500 per month. I finally bought a more cost-effective car after a few years of financial pain, settling on a 2008 Nissan Altima offering 31 mpg. My cost was immediately cut in half. I have driven it minimally in recent years, and it still runs great ten years later.
However, it does not fit all my needs anymore. I just started a home renovation, and a truck would be more useful. Compounding the problem, my wife’s two-door convertible will not be appropriate for a car seat when we eventually start a family. Since my car is a manual, she cannot drive it!
I am now faced with the difficult decision to:
- Do nothing
- Replace a perfectly functioning car
- Keep my car AND get a truck
- Teach my wife how to drive a stick
- Help my wife buy a new car
- Buy a Tesla
- Take Uber everywhere
There really is no straightforward solution.
The car-buying process of our personal lives is like the software-buying process of our professional lives. It may be more appropriate to say companies buy multiple cars. A company might buy an ERP system for supply chain and finance and a CRM system for the sales team. Those solutions each solve different problems for their respective departments. But what about the car that brings everyone together? The common denominator across systems is data, and the vehicle that unites people across an organization is business intelligence.
What kind of car do you drive?
Maybe your company uses Crystal Reports or Business Objects. Your mid-1990s Toyota Corolla is old, but it will probably run for another twenty years! Legacy analytic tools will still get you where you need to be, but like an old vehicle, it must be driven carefully and requires frequent maintenance.
Perhaps you upgraded to MicroStrategy, Infor BI, or Oracle BI over the years. You can liken these to a whole taxi fleet of Crown Victorias. Those indestructible Crown Vics are still on the road today despite recent technological advancements and competition from Lyft and Uber.
Or maybe your company uses a combination of Excel, Tableau, and other discovery tools, essentially like handing each employee a 4WD vehicle. With the ability to go off road, people quickly reach destinations previously unattainable. On the contrary, they may end up in remote locations having nothing to do with the original destination. In this case, your company’s business goals. It will be difficult keeping everyone on the main road, and the likelihood of someone getting lost or stuck in a ditch is much higher.
These comparisons simplify the complexities many organizations face when it comes to choosing the right applications to fit their business needs. We can more easily understand how organizations keep the same solutions for so many years despite the availability of new technology.
Is it time for a new car?
What companies need to solve the business intelligence problem is a family car to carry everyone to the same destination. The best solutions involve the right combination of technology, methodology, and people. To assess whether you should upgrade your BI solution now, ask yourself the following questions:
- Can we articulate our business needs around data and analytics?
- Can corrective action lead to a monetary gain?
- Do we need to update other business systems and processes first?
- Is a current analytics solution addressing our needs?
- Do we have the budget for a new solution?
- Do we have the resources to support the building of a BI program?
- Are we ready for change?
Which car should I buy?
If you are ready to upgrade your business intelligence solution, the next step is to identify the use cases a solution should address. Most businesses face the same challenges when it comes to formulating a data strategy. When evaluating applications, organizations want a solution that can:
- Unify complex data across multiple sources
- Analyze complex business processes
- Blend centralized and decentralized data
- Create and maintain reusable metrics into a single version of the truth
- Empower users with role specific tools
- Get fast time to value with iterative and agile deployments
- Scale both users and data economically
One cloud-based application alone can address all these challenges. Birst, acquired by Infor last year, is poised to be the new vehicle of choice for many organizations in the years to come. With enterprise-grade architecture, Birst’s ability to network cloud and on-premise data sources finally allows organizations to build a common, governed view while still empowering business users to utilize standard metrics for self-service. The quick time to value and low total cost of ownership translate to a mass-market, family SUV that goes 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds.
Avaap can help you determine the right time to buy and is ready to guide you on your next journey.
Salvatore Rancadore is a Principal Consultant at Avaap where he leads the Birst practice. He worked at Birst for 4 years as a Project Manager and Value Architect within the professional services organization and has delivered more than 40 Birst implementations. He currently resides in Nashville, TN.