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The Forrester Wave: Shadow of Business Intelligence

· Agile Zone

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The Forrester Wave Agile Business Intelligence Platforms, Q3 2014 is a well-written report put together by Boris Evelson, which reviews and compares 16 agile BI providers. The report gives an introduction to people who may be new to the Agile BI industry as well as provides descriptive tables, graphs, and infographics giving more experienced folks a nice market overview. Mr. Evelson also explains their vendor selection criteria, exhibits vendor profiles, highlights leaders and contenders, and describes the methodologies for the “Forrester Wave.”

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I don't plan on reviewing the entire document in full but there was one topic in particular that I could truly relate to which is what Forrester refers to as the “shadow” of BI – homegrown BI applications. I speak to numerous companies on a daily basis about BI and many of them have gone ahead and built their own in-house or homegrown solutions that integrate with a more traditional enterprise BI platforms and I've always wondered why they would take this route.

In the Forrester Wave:Agile Business Intelligence Platforms, Q3 2014, Boris Evelson explains, “Alas, enterprise grade BI platforms are often anything but agile. Indeed, all modern enterprise BI platforms are scalable and robust, support and promote a single version of the truth, and minimize operational risk. However, these capabilities carry a hefty price tag of complexity, rigidity, and inflexibility, and as a result they are slow to react to constantly changing customer and business requirements. This lack of BI agility promotes an unfortunate side effect — proliferation of shadow IT, “homegrown” BI applications.”

Forrester also presents a bar graph in (Figure 1) and asks, “How would you describe the BI applications or tools that you use? Are they primarily company-issued, or are they ‘homegrown’?”

This graph resembles a standard normal distribution curve (Bell Curve) with "companies using 100% homegrown BI" and "companies using 100% company-issued BI" at each tail, and companies using a "50/50" mix are at the median and mean of the curve.

This echoes what I have “felt” after speaking to numerous corporations about BI and it’s nice to see data to validate it. So why are we seeing this?

In figure 2, Evelson presents a graph called “Reasons Business Users Resort to Homegrown BI Apps.”

Here are Forrester's top 3 reasons why homegrown BI solutions are being used:

  1. Company-issued BI don’t have all the data needed
  2. Company-issued BI don’t have the right data model, relationships, attributes, and hierarchies
  3. Company-issued BI are too restrictive in their data models

If you want to see the entire list from the Forrester Wave, click here.

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