Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dresner’s Point: Involve Customers and Suppliers in Your BI Chain

August 15, 2013

Do you remember when you thought it was too risky to purchase something online? Remember when you held out for a while and didn’t immediately hop on board the bandwagon like others to enjoy the convenience of paying your bills via online banking? Or maybe you still haven’t taken those plunges. The same phenomenon is affecting some organizations’ entrée into cloud-delivered business intelligence. But others have injected a big dose of value creation into their BI activities by moving to the cloud.
In fact, one of the significant nuggets in our recent 2013 Wisdom of Crowds® Cloud Business Intelligence Market Study is that organizations targeting external users (customers and suppliers) are the biggest users of cloud BI. It makes sense because of the cloud’s scalability and elasticity —and the ability to isolate those users from internal systems..
Integrating end-to-end value chains is definitely valuable, from the perspectives of data source as well as delivery. Without involving customers and suppliers in the BI chain, you don’t get full value. In addition, delivering BI in the cloud (private or public) allows organizations to spend their resources on innovation as opposed to operations. The cloud’s elasticity and pay-as-you-grow pricing model makes it easier to budget and allocate resources.
So why are some organizations opting for traditional BI instead of tapping into the value of BI through the cloud? I wanted to take a deeper look at this from the perspectives of the tribe at my Friday #BIWisdom tweetchats. Their positions and insights span the horizon of buyers, vendors, and analysts, and they’re on the cusp of what’s happening in the business intelligence space.
On a recent Friday we plunged into a discussion about the nuances of adding customers and suppliers to the BI value chain. The tribe members’ real-world observations align with our survey findings around the top barriers to adopting cloud BI — security issues and loss of control.
It all comes down to trust.
The tribe tweeted that one of the points of moving BI to the cloud is to give some control to users. But that power shift can be significant, and not fully understanding the risks causes some uneasiness. Tweets pointed out that:
• “Internal users having control is one things, but external users (customers and suppliers) affecting control could present risks.”
• “By giving these external partners more control of what data/information they see via the cloud, they may bring their own agendas into your BI.”
“Where do you draw the line?” they asked.
When it comes to the barrier of security, several participants tweeted that in reality data is no more secure these days inside the organization than it is in a public cloud (think NSA). Nevertheless, perception is as important as reality. Most of them agreed with me that inadequate security is an easy crutch to lean on when there are other hidden agendas for not moving to the cloud.
I asked the tribe what needs to happen for cloud BI to earn more trust to overcome the control and security barriers. Policy changes? Education? New technology?
• A member suggested that executives might gain more trust if the cost drops to the point where that trust is bought. Another said trust can’t be bought, especially since the days of Enron.
• Someone else tweeted that big brands like Amazon help overcome the trust issue and cloud providers are bending over backwards these days to show security and compliance.
• One was of the opinion that “Trust with the cloud is only as good as the gap between now and the next news story on compromised or lost data. Even if you lose cloud data because of internal mistakes, people will still remember that it was in the cloud when it happened.”
My view: Trust takes time. After all, some people still won’t pay their bills online.
Bottom line: For some organizations, bringing customers and suppliers into their BI corral is a good starting point for moving BI to the cloud. And delivering greater value through cloud BI can be the proving ground that leads to larger acceptance within the organization.
Because of the trust issue, most organizations will opt for private cloud BI before moving across to public clouds. Organizations that don’t want to fully move BI to the cloud right away will find the right mix of on-premises and cloud that works best for them.
The cloud will continue to disrupt the business intelligence space just as it has in all other aspects of technology. And whether or not there is a trust issue, cloud BI will catch on just as e-commerce did when people realized they liked the benefits of shopping online.

Click Here to Purchase Your Copy of the 2013 Wisdom of Crowds ® CloudBI Market Study
Howard Dresner is president, founder and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services, LLC, an independent advisory firm. He is one of the foremost thought leaders in Business Intelligence and Performance Management, having coined the term “Business Intelligence” in 1989. He has published two books on the subject, The Performance Management Revolution — Business Results through Insight and Action, and Profiles in Performance — Business Intelligence Journeys and the Roadmap for Change. He hosts a weekly tweet chat (#BIWisdom) on Twitter each Friday. Prior to Dresner Advisory Services, Howard served as chief strategy officer at Hyperion Solutions and was a research fellow at Gartner, where he led its Business Intelligence research practice for 13 years.

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