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Standardizing enterprise BI systems: Still a viable strategy?

Consultant Rick Sherman discusses whether standardizing on a single business intelligence platform enterprisewide is a realistic goal for BI managers.

Standardizing on a single business intelligence platform throughout an organization might seem like an easy way to reduce the cost and complexity of BI systems and fix potential data disparities that can result from the use of different BI tools. And in the past, enterprise BI standardization was "the mantra" for many BI managers, according to Rick Sherman, founder of consulting company Athena IT Solutions in Maynard, Mass. But, he said during a podcast interview with SearchBusinessAnalytics, "the reality of the situation has caused it to be maybe not that easy of an issue or a realistic goal" for most companies.

Sherman highlighted some of the challenges and drawbacks a company can face when attempting to standardize its BI software. For example, the rise of self-service BI tools, data visualization software and mobile BI applications is creating an increasing number of BI options for business users, who often have the final say in purchase decisions. Consolidating BI systems takes time, money and resources that could be devoted to higher-value projects, Sherman said. And he pointed out that standardization initiatives can temporarily halt BI processes, resulting in lost business opportunities while perhaps not even providing end users with improved data analysis capabilities. "The idea of staying in place and doing a migration is an opportunity cost that most businesses don't want to go through," he said. A more pragmatic approach, he added, is standardizing on a set of software to meet different BI needs -- for example, augmenting a traditional BI platform with specified data discovery and mobile BI tools.

In the 15-minute podcast, moderated by SearchBusinessAnalytics Executive Editor Craig Stedman, Sherman further discussed the issues involved in standardizing on a single enterprise BI platform and detailed strategies that BI teams can adopt to keep the use of multiple BI tools from becoming a problem. Listeners will:

  • Learn some of the pros and cons of standardizing on one BI system throughout an organization.
  • Discover the factors that can cause issues for companies attempting BI standardization.
  • Hear what Sherman recommends for ensuring that the use of different BI tools in an organization doesn't cause data disparities and other problems.
  • Get Sherman's thoughts on how the growing use of self-service BI software is affecting the amount of control that business users have over the software purchasing process.

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