Pervasive BI. Are we closer than we were 10 years ago?
By: Steve Dine
One of the topics that still seems to garner a great deal of attention is "pervasive BI". Just like Henry Ford's vision of a car in every driveway, the BI vendors envision a license for every employee. Don't get me wrong, I'm at the front of the parade when it comes to increasing the BI footprint in today's organizations. However, I think that we still have a long way to go in large part because it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. For example, we learned a long time ago that data without context is just data. Yet, it seems that most of today's BI applications lack all but the most rudimentary metadata capabilities. It is a challenge to import the business and technical metadata, maintain it and expose it to the users. How will BI become pervasive if we can't enable users to become more self-service?
From my perspective, another area that has been a roadblock to pervasive BI is the restrictive licensing models of today's BI applications. I'm not advocating that vendors give away their software for free, but if we want to make BI pervasive then we need to be able to embed it in our processes, intranets, extranets, web services and everywhere else we display and share information. In most organizations, we are forced to choose who is worthy of a BI software license, since the cost per user is based on software access, not usage. The open source vendors are the furthest along in easing the licensing restrictions of their components, recognizing that more pervasive BI becomes, the larger the ultimate market for their software. Hopefully the cloud will also play a role in helping to change the software licensing models.
These are only two of many reasons why I don't think that we are any closer to pervasive BI than we were 10 years ago. I am working on an article that will discuss this topic in more detail. In the meantime, please feel free to provide comments from the trenches on what you see as being the greatest challenges to pervasive BI.
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