Business Intelligence—Can You Afford To Ignore It?

Before you come to believe that I am a negative person, bent on the destruction of anyone or anything that I disagree with, I have decided to come out in favor of something. Bear with me though—it’s been a while since I’ve written something positive about a person, place, or thing—I might be a little rusty.

If you haven’t looked at the bottom of this page, do so now. Are you all back yet? Good. Although 47 respondents isn’t a lot to base an opinion on, it is a start. What surprised me about the results of our most recent MIDRANGE Systems/IRG survey was that only a few of the respondents were disappointed with the ROI they received from their BI project. Typically in projects that involve large expenditures of resources, both human and monetary, you have a bunch of people that are immensely dissatisfied and a bunch of people that are extremely happy. There is usually not much middle ground. Ask any large group of people who have implemented an ERP solution and you’ll see what I mean.

So you have almost half the people being extremely happy and half being satisfied and only a few being dissatisfied. Well, this is great, but what can you tell from 11 people? Not a lot, actually. It is the other 36 people that tell the real story. When 77 percent of a survey’s respondents reply that they haven’t even implemented a BI solution yet, it shows me this is an emerging market.

"When 77 percent of a survey’s respondents reply that they haven’t even implemented a BI solution yet, it shows me this is an emerging market."
A recent report by (Palo Alto, Calif.) shows that the Business Intelligence/Datawarehousing (BI/DW) market on the AS/400 platform will grow 400 percent over the next four years—which would be great if the NT platform weren’t growing at a rate of 1000 percent in the same period. Will the AS/400 be relegated again to the role of legacy back-end platform playing second fiddle to NT’s state-of-the-art front-end BI/DW server? Maybe, or IBM might just move quick enough for the AS/400 to get in on the ground floor of a booming BI/DW market expected by to be worth almost $150 billion worldwide by 2003.

In this issue we examine BI/DW from a number of different perspectives. Stephen Swoyer’s front-page article, “IBM Showcases OLAP on AS/400,” looks at what IBM is doing in the area of Online Analytical Processing (OLAP), specifically examining the new DB2 OLAP Server for AS/400.

In our In Depth section, John Bussert, our Data Management columnist, looks at what it takes to implement a BI solution, from planning through maintenance, including proposing a BI “Twelve Step” program. In addition, we interview Peter Auditore, president of Syndicated Research at, and with him explore what Business Intelligence is, and how you can use it to gain competitive advantage.

After reading our BI/DW coverage, I think you’ll find the experts and the numbers both agree—BI is hot. So, you might ask, what does this mean for me?

Well, it means nothing and everything at the same time. It means nothing if you don’t care about surviving in this hyper-competitive world–and everything if you do. The penalty for failing to implement an effective BI/DW solution is not slow growth—it is negative growth. And the customers you lose don’t just go away—they go to your competitors, especially if they have implemented a sound BI/DW strategy.

Now the only question is: Can you do BI/DW on the AS/400? Although the jury is still out, we think the AS/400 will be found to be a great platform for implementing BI/DW solutions. All of the attributes that make it a great platform for business applications also make it great for BI/DW. Reliability and Scalability work together to make the AS/400 a great hardware platform for BI/DW and the only thing missing is software support. IBM’s recent announcements in this area and the addition of Vector Indexes in V4R4 solve the software support problem.

Now the only thing to do is watch and wait. Hopefully if we do the same survey one year from now, a larger percentage of AS/400 users will have implemented BI/DW solutions, but they will still be happy as clams with the ROI.

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