The Seven Deadly Sins of Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence is a misnomer.

A lot of implementations that I see, and the discussions that I have with practitioners who have implemented them, seem to offer little to the business and display only a passing acquaintance with anything that could have been termed as intelligence.

Why is this? Organizations, like people, are deeply flawed. They are honest to behaviors that in the short term seem to offer solutions but in the long term deliver little.

Who is to blame? Well many people would blame suppliers. Just as we often do in our private lives when we see that we drink and eat too much and exercise too little. If only there were not so many adverts on TV pushing unhealthy foods and so many of those tempting 'buy one get one free offers' in the stores with their easy access and parking then I would be that slim Adonis, that is struggling to get out of this current wreck of a body. Suppliers are as ready in the corporate IT world to pander to our organization's weaknesses as they are in our private lives to our own weaknesses.

Middle Age writers looked at Man and saw what a weak vessel he was and came up with the Seven Deadly Sins of pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony and drunkness, anger and sloth. I have looked at modern businesses and have likewise come up with the Seven Deadly Sins of Business Intelligence. Just to avoid the charge of pride, I realize that they do not quite have the grandeur of Saint Thomas Acquinas's Summa Theologica, and I do not expect to see an upsurge of Morality Plays based on them. On the other hand, I do expect to see projects that work and which deliver the real value to every organization.

The Seven Sins are:

  1. Being unprepared.
  2. Lacking direction.
  3. Unsuitability of those doing the job.
  4. Wrong culture.
  5. Technology fixated.
  6. Understimation.
  7. Unthinking.

And of all of these Technology Fixation is the most prevalent. I get to read lots of invitation to tenders and visit prospective clients who have invested an enormous amount of time and effort in coming up with what the technology needs to be able to do. There is often a direct correlation to the lack of thinking that has been done with what they will actually do with these products when they get them. To be clear these projects rarely fail because of technology.

There is a lot of wishful thinking that goes on. Think about exercise bikes and home gyms. We know we are too fat and unhealthy. We would like to like the photos of those lithe athletes. They are peddling the exercise bike and using the home gym. If only we had that exercise bike and home gym we too could look just like that. Which is correct other than the fact that we are lazy couch potatoes who will not take an hour out of our day to actually do something, unlike the beaming models that so obviously do.

Business Intelligence is no different. Business Intelligence tools work well and have been used to great effect by lean and fit organizations, those that have a sense of purpose and vision, that have a culture of analyzing problems and doing something about them and that are prepared to invest, not just the money, but, so much more importantly, the time and effort required.

So many other organizations are in the position of the 9 stone weakling, who has sent off to Charles Atlas, the body builder, for his famous exercise regime, was forced to write in:

' Yesterday, I received the Dynamic Tension program in the post. Could you now please send the muscles? '

Business Intelligence should be about the transformation of the organization. There is a technology aspect to this but do not be fooled that it is as easy as buying a product. Look at your organization and think about the hard work that needs to go into turning it into one that can use Business Intelligence to improve and compete.

Source by Chris Sands

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