How to have the BI Cake and eat it too: Forrester’s prediction for 2014

Summary: How do you balance business users’ need to produce their own content with little dependence on bureaucratic IT processes while at the same time minimizing enterprise risk, achieving economies of scale, and getting rid of silos? We think we have the answer.

By Boris Evelson

Rather than going with the usual, ubiquitous, and often (yawn) repetitive “top 10 BI predictions” for the next year, we thought we’d try something different. After all, didn’t the cult movie Highlander prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that “in the end there will be only one”? And didn’t the Lord Of The Rings saga convince us that we need one prediction “to rule them all”? The proposed top BI prediction for 2014 rests on the following indisputable facts:

Now, here’s a dose of a sobering cold shower: A single enterprise BI platform based on a single version of the truth — a single enterprise data warehouse — will not solve this challenge. We all fought this battle in the 1990s and largely lost it. Time to embrace the pragmatic reality of the 21st century. Here it is in a nutshell:

So how do you have the BI cake and eat it too? How do you balance business users’ need to produce their own content with little dependence on bureaucratic IT processes while at the same time minimizing enterprise risk, achieving economies of scale, and getting rid of silos? We think we have an answer — maybe the answer. This is how Forrester proposes to address the dilemma (we already see this approach at a handful of customers with win-win for business and IT success stories). It’s a three-tier environment based on:

A step-by-step process would look like this:

Didn’t we just have our BI cake and eat it too? Yes, we did, because:

Brilliant, huh? But this is our first attempt to document and understand this process — we don’t yet know very well all of the possible ramifications and implications. We welcome all constructive criticism, suggestions, best practices, lessons learned, etc.