Every business software system has an economic life. This essentially means that a software application exists for a period of time to accomplish its intended business functionality after which it has to be replaced or re-engineered. This is a fundamental truth that has to be taken into account when a product is bought or for a system that is developed from scratch.
During its useful life, the software system goes through a maturity life cycle – I would like to call it the “Value Curve” to establish the fact that the real intention of creating the system is to provide business value. As a BI practitioner, my focus is on the “Business Intelligence Value Curve” and in my humble opinion it typically goes thro’ the following phases as shown in the diagram.
Stage 1 – Deployment and Proliferation
The BI infrastructure is created at this stage catering to one or two subject areas. Both the process and technology infrastructure are established and there will be tangible benefits to the business users (usually the finance team!). Seeing the initial success, more subject areas are brought into the BI landscape that leads to the first list of problems – lack of data quality, completeness and duplication of data across data marts / repositories.
Stage 2 – Leveraging for Enterprise Decision Making
This stage takes off by addressing the problems seen in Stage-1 and overall enterprise data warehouse architecture starts taking shape. There is increased business value as compared to Stage-1 as the Enterprise Data Warehouse becomes a single source of truth for the enterprise. But as the data volume grows, the value is diminished due to scalability issues. For example, the data loads that used to take ‘x’ hours to complete now needs at-least ‘2x’ hours.
Stage 3 – Integrating and Sustaining
The scalability issues seen at the end of Stage-2 are alleviated and the BI landscape sees much higher levels of integration. Knowledge is built into the set up by leveraging the metadata and the user adoption of the BI system is almost complete. But the emergence of a disruptive technology (for example – BI Appliances) or a completely different service model for BI (Ex: Cloud Analytics) or a regulatory mandate (Ex: IFRS) may force the organization to start evaluating completely different ways of analyzing information.
Stage 4 – Reinvent
The organization, after appropriate feasibility tests and ROI calculations, reinvents its business intelligence landscape and starts constructing one that is relevant for its future.
I do acknowledge the fact that not all organizations will go through this particular lifecycle but based on my experience in architecting BI solutions, most of them do have stages of evolution similar to the one described in this blog. A good understanding of the value curve would help BI practitioners provide the right solutions to the problems encountered at different stages.
Thanks for reading. Please do share your thoughts!