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“BI projects are increasingly user-focused.”

Posted on 19 August 2011 by Pierre Picard

The Business Intelligence market – one of Bull’s strategic priorities – is not only growing very rapidly, but is also undergoing profound transformation. Thierry Siouffi, Executive Vice-President of the Business Integration Solutions Business Line shares his analysis.

What are the key trends in the Business Intelligence market right now?

We notice that BI is still a highly dynamic market, which is managing sustained growth despite the difficult economic climate. That’s due to the fact that companies and public sector bodies alike have now to be even more responsive and efficient. Thanks to BI, they can monitor and manage their activities in greater and greater detail, using the data that’s already held in their systems. Nowadays, the role of BI is not just to provide summary reports, for monitoring what has already happened, but also to give managers immediate access to factors that will determine their operational decisions. The result of this change (over and above the impact on technical architectures), is that BI projects are becoming increasingly user-focused: it’s important to provide the right information to the right person, at the right time, and in a form that enables that person to make the best possible use of it. For some people, like company directors and sales people, this will be via mobile terminals. Some will want to look at map projections. And for other groups the key priority may be to receive real-time information or to be able to use data with much greater freedom, without formatting. Even the scope of information that can be included has changed radically; now it’s possible to incorporate external data from public databases, from suppliers and partners, allowing customers to ‘benchmark’ themselves or create location-specific dashboards…

We usual talk about Business Intelligence in the singular; but shouldn’t we really be talking about Business Intelligences (plural)?

Absolutely! Business Intelligence is becoming less and less generic, and more and more closely aligned with the specific features of each business. But if BI is to really become that vital adjunct to operational effectiveness, it’s essential to properly identify these requirements up front, so as to use the technology wisely. Accountants, finance controllers and production are looking, above all, for rigor and reliability, whereas marketing, for example, must be more creative with the figures and will therefore need more flexibility. It’s essential to take account of the context in which the information is being used, and how the data will be used, without ever losing sight of the fact that one of the vital functions of BI is to enable all the stakeholders in the business to work with shared, irrefutable figures. So a good understanding of the business is the key to design a solution that will be adopted unreservedly by the users; a vital prerequisite for value creation.

With this in mind, do we need to create vertical BI solutions?

The risk of verticalization is to offer ready-made solutions that ignore the specific characteristics of each organization: its size, its culture, its priorities… At Bull, we would rather talk about ‘capitalizing on experience’. Over the course of our projects, we have amassed a vast amount of methodological experience and vital business skills to help our customers define their key indicators, what they are going to analyze, how they will restore and present their data… As a result, for example, we have developed a special expertise in local authorities, having provided business control solutions to local and regional councils, and the authorities in major cities like Marseille. We are also developing leading edge skills in other key sectors such as energy, telecoms and industry. In terms of business functions, we are especially involved in finance and human resources, because in these areas the technological aspects are particularly critical.

Is technology still an essential challenge on Business Intelligence projects?

Yes, more than ever! It’s also the big paradox, and the difficulty with BI today: the closer you want to be to your users, to provide them with the most relevant information in the most user-friendly form with appropriate levels of service, the more your architecture has to be carefully tuned. So successful Business Intelligence projects rely, above all, on the quality of the dialogue between the business and the technical people. And that’s one of Bull’s great strengths, because in the same team we bring together people with three complementary types of skills: an understanding of operational needs, in-depth knowledge of data restitution tools (mainly SAP and Microsoft) and expertise in critical infrastructures. This allows them to understand, right from the start of the project, issues of size and scope, security and performance, and to effectively integrate all the elements of an information system. With our professional, structured approach and our specialist expertise, we operate from a number of dedicated Services Centers to provide our customers with greater responsiveness and optimum production capabilities when it comes to developing and maintaining BI information systems.

For more information >>> http://www.bull.com/bi/index.html

For more information >>> http://news.bull.com/bulldirect/2011/08/bull-expands-access-to-bi-with-its-fast-track-appliance/

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