Business Intelligence: Cosmic Bondinis: The Magical Ability to Facilitate the Integration of People and Technology

System Integrators and consultants often play a vital role in the design and implementation of the data warehouse, including the selection of business intelligence tools. Regardless of whether the BI/DW project initiative involves developing a CRM system to be leveraged into marketing automation, or the data warehousing of ERP information for B-to-B e-commerce, a variety of management personnel, users and technologies are involved.

Because of their ability to bring together line of business managers, marketing, IT, CFOs and CEOs, in addition to disparate computer systems data types, systems integrators and consultants are the cosmic bondinis of the BI/DW world. Perhaps, the most successful services group in the history of BI/DW is IBM’s Global Business Intelligence Solutions Unit, which had an estimated revenue of $500 million in 1999.

Not surprisingly, the world of BI/DW is seething with consultants and systems integrators. For example, The Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI) is a gauntlet of consultants that seemingly have all the answers to any customer’s data warehousing and business intelligence project. Compounding the complexity of BI/DW is the confluence of BI/DW with ERP and B-to-B and B-to-C e-commerce, which is significantly complicating the entire process. Many customers, no doubt, will be employing more consultants and systems integrators to meet the demands of 24x7 e-business. At any given time, an organization may have several ongoing BI/DW projects that are consultant-, systems integrator- and in-house-driven.

This month, we examine how companies rate the importance of vendor-provided services, what vendors are chosen for specific services, which vendors to turn to when implementing data warehouses in medium and large companies, and the overall importance of vendors as service providers. All the data points are from the BI/DW Research Group’s Database Solutions III report.

Vendor-Provided BI/DW Services

Respondents were asked to rate the importance of services provided to their BI/DW facility by outside services vendors, hardware vendors and software vendors on a scale of 1 through 5, where 5 is very important and 1 is unimportant.

Nearly all the services fell into a narrow rating range of 3 to 4. The services rated most important are IT staff education, performance tuning and architecture and database design. Consultative-type services fell into the lowest rated group, while those categories having to do with implementation fell into the middle range.

We found that most large and medium size enterprises would first turn to a consultant when a new data warehouse is going to be deployed. DBMS vendors and System Integrators are also prominent as initial advisors. Least important in this context are value-added resellers and systems vendors. However, some systems vendors provide consulting and other services through independent professional services and organizations, which are counted outside the system vendor category.

After looking at outside service needs at the outset of a BI project, we asked customers to gauge the overall relative importance of the same set of vendors to the BI program. In this case, the most important vendors are the DBMS, server and software tools vendors. Note that many of the DBMS and systems vendors provide consulting services through independent professional services organizations, which are counted in the other categories, such as consulting and system integration.

In our 1999 forecast for software and services, based on Database Solutions III survey of nearly 500 companies implementing data warehouse and business intelligence initiatives, we expect organizations will spend more than $4 billion on services. Until next time, good luck with your BI and data warehousing projects.

About the Author: Peter J. Auditore is the Vice President of the Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing Program, responsible for syndicated research services at World Research Inc. (San Jose, Calif.).

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Cognos unveiled the EnterpriseService Portal (ESP), a customizable, personalized portal that allows Cognos BI customers to receive the level of customer service, support and education they choose. Cognos will implement the portal in stages throughout the year.

The Cognos ESP provides access to training, including new Web-based training offers; technical support; and post-sales consulting through Cognos’ Consulting Services organization. It also offers access to live customer support, customer chats, FAQs, a solutions knowledge base and other forms of knowledge transfer, such as online diagnostic support.

"Cognos is evolving from the brick-and-mortar customer service model to a new e-business model which is more in tune with the new e-conomy," says Rob Ashe, Cognos’ Senior Vice President of Customer Service and Support. Ashe’s comments about the "new e-conomy" are underscored by a report just released by E-Offering, an online investment banking firm. The report, which says that the Internet and information technology are fundamentally changing the way companies conduct business, predicts that the growth of business-to-business e-commerce will far exceed that of business-to-consumer e-commerce. This, of course, isn’t news. The GartnerGroup has already reported that it expects the worldwide business-to-business e-commerce market to exceed $7 trillion by 2004.


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