WhereScape CEO and founder Michael Whitehead has challenged the Business Intelligence (BI) industry to raise its standards, saying BI is characterised by poor projects and excuses for non-delivery.
Speaking at a recent Business Intelligence Summit in Auckland, which also included cloud computing and datacentres, Whitehead said BI had yet to reach its potential in this country.
“BI hasn’t done as much as it should inside [10 years]. The success of BI is determined by the CEO, but I challenge people to ask their CEO or department head how much of a difference BI has made to their business.”
According to Whitehead, BI companies “should be the guys that get funding chucked at us, because we put things in front of the CEO that they use to run their business.”
Instead, he says business intelligence practitioners have presented poor excuses for projects not living up to expectations, along with saying that companies have invested in bad projects.
“The reasons we used to use was that the technology, such as SQL Server, couldn’t be integrated. That was a reason 10 years ago, but it’s certainly not the case now.”
He says gaining funding for BI projects continues to be jeopardised by projects that “underwhelm”, yet continue to be utilised.
“We know enough about project management failure. If you’re going to deliver something that your users think is crap, let’s get that sorted out in the first week so you can fail it and save money. That’s much better than six months down the track before everyone thinks it is crap.”
He also says BI is not “exciting enough” to build a development community.
“There are not garages of geeks working until three in the morning to create the next best BI thing. They are working on stuff that is a lot more web orientated.”
Whitehead urges BI firms to get funding up front, then educate users on data warehouse objectives and outcomes. “Too often we see people deciding on the type of warehouse they want to build before they look at the characteristics.” Recruiting and retaining appropriately skilled staff will boost BI industry, he says.
“You need a very technical person who understands data warehousing, but can have a non-embarrassing conversation with your CEO discussing the KPIs for the business.”
Wherescape was incorporated in 1997 and prior to founding the business, Whitehead worked in data warehousing for Sequent Computer Systems Asia Pacific. The company has offices in Auckland, the UK and the US.