LESSON - Best Practices and Emerging Trends in Enterprise Business Intelligence
By John Kopcke, Senior Vice President, Business Intelligence & Enterprise Performance Management Global Business Unit, Oracle
Business intelligence (BI) solutions have evolved beyond the traditional query, reporting, and dashboard tools that tell you how your business performed in the past. Cuttingedge analytic and predictive capabilities, and visualization and delivery enhancements are examples of the advances of the past few years. But these new choices can seem daunting to customers seeking to implement a new BI strategy or to rationalize their existing BI toolset. Oracle’s observations on how leading edge companies are implementing BI can help other organizations focus on what’s important when researching BI solution providers.
Leading-edge businesses are demanding BI software that can help them automate management processes. The competitive advantage of operational excellence enabled by ERP/CRM is beginning to diminish. Many companies now recognize that the next frontier of competitive advantage is in management excellence. The key to achieving that comes from having defined management processes as well as software to support those processes. Just as ERP helped organizations put structure around operational processes such as “order to cash” and “procure to pay,” BI can help organizations put structure around management processes.
We are seeing an increasing trend toward the “democratization” of data, where business users have increasing access to intuitive BI tools. Not so very long ago, business intelligence software was confined mostly to a small group of highly trained experts in the average business. But today, more and more business people have access to intuitive BI tools. What has driven that trend, and how has the technology evolved to help in this “democratization?”
Oracle is bringing Web 2.0 concepts to BI in ways that simplify information access and facilitate collaboration in order to serve a much broader range of users. One example of that is the integration of BI and popular search engines. Today, using BI can be as easy as using Google.
Many companies now recognize that the next frontier of competitive advantage is in management excellence.
Desktop gadgets represent another example. Most people use consumer gadgets for monitoring things like local traffic conditions, airline discounts, and stock prices. Now they can have BI gadgets on their desktops to do things like monitoring their relevant KPIs, sharing and discussing BI reports in real time, and even executing management processes.
User self service is another way to democratize BI. Oracle’s innovative BI semantic layer enables business people to create, manage, and deliver personalized BI reports and queries from multiple heterogeneous data sources without having to rely on IT professionals.
BI projects work more effectively when they’re collaborative efforts by the IT department and the business. IT and business need to work together as equal partners. Many of our customers have embraced the concept of BI Competency Centers to evangelize the use of BI, share and promote best practices, establish standards, and implement governance processes for change management, security, and internal controls. Packaged applications that leverage lessons learned from prior BI projects can provide a great starting point for identifying requirements and implementing solutions.
BI architecture continues to evolve in ways that are great for the modern business. One of the recent trends that we’re excited about is the application of business intelligence and service-oriented architecture (SOA) technology to enable what we call “insight to action.” When you can embed business intelligence in business processes, you give people the ability not only to gain insight, but to actually do something about it right then and there. As time goes on, the lines between discrete business intelligence, ERP, and CRM applications will become increasingly transparent.
In addition, Oracle is doing some exciting things to drive the convergence of BI, content management, enterprise search, and Web 2.0. One example of that is a unique solution that uses data mining and BI technology to help sales people determine when and how to use specific sales and marketing assets to prospect and close business.