Big BI, Little BI - InformationWeek

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Software // Information Management
Commentary
5/19/2005
03:39 PM
Ted Kemp
Ted Kemp
Commentary
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Big BI, Little BI

Large and small firms bear striking similarities when it comes to what they hope for from their business intelligence deployments. That's where the similarities end.

Big companies and small companies want the same things from business intelligence. They just don't agree on how to get them.

Organizations with more than $1 billion in revenue hope to achieve more or less the same things through their business intelligence deployments as do companies with less than $1 billion in revenue, according to recent research from our sister publication InformationWeek. Improvements to business planning and data accuracy are priorities among both the big and the less-big. So are sales increases. Surprisingly, the exact same portions of respondents from both the larger and smaller firms -- 55 percent -- hope to use BI to obtain "real-time" information. That last bit ought to get the attention of reporting vendors, integration software makers and database firms alike.

Where the $1 billion-plus companies diverge from their smaller counterparts is in the way they use BI to reach their goals. Big businesses are more likely to "have BI tools scattered throughout the organization," says InformationWeek's Charles Babcock. Smaller companies deploy BI in a more limited way -- meaning for more specific purposes. Another key difference: Big companies are much more likely than small ones to use fancy, graphical displays to present key performance indicators (KPIs) to users.

If you're interested in seeing more numbers and finding out where you fit among your peer organizations -- and among the companies that are nowhere near your size -- check out the whole story here.

Last but not least among the more interesting InformationWeek findings has to do with everybody's least-favorite BI bugaboo: data quality. When it comes to keeping data consistent, clean and uncorrupted, it seems the big boys are having more problems than the little guys. Fifty-five percent of large firms report that data quality problems are a barrier to BI adoption, compared with only 39 percent of smaller companies.

Surprised? Don't be. A rising tide, as the saying goes, lifts all boats. It makes sense that as an organization's scale increases, its data volume will swell. Moreover, the data will begin to stream in from more sources -- varied systems, staff, geographical locations, you name it. Big companies' burgeoning data quality issues are worth remembering if you're part of a fast-growing organization. Every business wants to grow. But when it comes to managing data on a larger scale, know where you're headed.

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