Forrester: IT-Centric Enterprise BI Models Unsustainable

Jaikumar Vijayan June 15, 2012
Fast-changing business intelligence requirements drive need for self-service BI

Enterprise business intelligence models that are too heavily IT-centric are unsustainable, a new report from Forrester Research cautioned this week.

Increasingly, businesses that want to develop robust business intelligence (BI) capabilities will need to adopt self-service BI tools and methodologies in order to succeed, Forrester noted.

Two major factors are driving the need for self-service BI.

The first is that BI requirements change faster than IT's ability to keep up. Even IT organizations with the latest tools and best practices often have to struggle to keep up with business requirements for BI applications, Forrester researcher Boris Evelson said in the report.

Unlike enterprise applications such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), BI applications have a short lifespan and can become outdated very quickly, he said.

The other major issue is that conventional approaches to software development are poorly suited for today's BI needs, he said. "The traditional waterfall methodology for the software development life cycle calls for collecting user requirements, transforming them into specifications, and then turning these specifications over to developers," Evelson noted in the report.

"While this approach is often successful for traditional enterprise application implementations, it won't work for the majority of BI requirements," he said.

Increasingly, enterprises can benefit from tapping self-service tools for their BI requirements, he said. While IT needs to retain control of complex, mission-critical BI applications, a vast majority of other BI initiatives need to be handled directly by the business units that will be using the applications.