Should BI and Performance Management Be a Single Platform? - InformationWeek

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4/25/2007
10:32 AM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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Should BI and Performance Management Be a Single Platform?

Weeks before Business Objects announced it will acquire Cartesis, I had an interesting chat with BI-industry veteran Ben Plummer, now a VP at Applix. Plummer commented that the company is positioning itself "in the convergence between BI and performance management… we're calling it 'Business Analytics.'"

A couple of weeks ago - long before Business Objects announced it will acquire Cartesis - I had an interesting chat with Cognos- and Outlooksoft-veteran Ben Plummer, who is now vice president of marketing at Applix. It was a routine update on the company's latest release, Applix 9.1, but Plummer started by commenting that the company is positioning itself "in the convergence between BI and performance management… we're calling it 'Business Analytics.'"Like many other vendor executives I've talked to, Plummer said customers are looking to do everything on one platform. "BI has always offered a historical perspective, but the insight hasn't been actionable," he asserted. "With performance management, you can load operational and budgetary data and do what-if analyses." Plummer then explained that Applix' in-memory technology lets you query more complete data (rather than just predefined dimensions) and "game the numbers" without latency… but that's another topic.

Getting back to convergence, Cindi Howson questioned my assertion in this article that users are driving the trend. Her own surveys, taken among TDWI course attendees and consulting clients, show no such demand, she said.

"Would a survey sample made up of TDWI attendees have a built-in bias?" I wondered?

"It does depend on who you ask," Cindi responded. "I'm not saying BI/PM convergence doesn't make sense, but I'm not hearing demand for it from many customers because CFOs and CIOs often have different agendas."

The complexion of the question might change a bit if you think of performance management more broadly, addressing operational performance (and employee performance) as well as financial performance. As balanced scorecard co-founder Dr. David Norton recently told us, "You can't get financial results unless you deal with the drivers of financial results - your customer, your processes and so forth. It's not the domain of the strategic planner, nor is it the domain of the CFO or the human resource executive. It requires you to integrate all parts of the business."

Cindi's 10-minute survey on BI success poses the following question: How does your company view BI (data warehousing, query, reporting, analysis, dashboards) and performance management (budgeting, planning, financial consolidation, and strategic scorecards)? Are they A) separate initiatives B) closely related, but separate projects and people address those needs, or C) one initiative with solutions provided via the same group?

I encourage you to take the survey, but this question really speaks to BI and performance management "initiatives" versus the technologies used to support them. If you agree BI and PM "should be handled on a single technology platform," add this phrase in the "Additional Comments" field of this question.Weeks before Business Objects announced it will acquire Cartesis, I had an interesting chat with BI-industry veteran Ben Plummer, now a VP at Applix. Plummer commented that the company is positioning itself "in the convergence between BI and performance management… we're calling it 'Business Analytics.'"

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