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Five Things So-Called “Business Intelligence” Vendors Don’t Talk About

By Akshata Pai posted Mon December 19, 2016 07:36 AM

Many start-ups have made fortunes claiming to deliver “business intelligence.”   Don’t mistake these for business intelligence solutions. Business intelligence is not data discovery and it’s not trivial. Not unlike your general ledger, you deliver one version so executives can stake their reputation on its outputs. Unfortunately, some vendors don’t see the bigger picture of what’s required to make business intelligence trusted, efficient, and governed.
Without this bigger picture, they create disconnected users, operating with outdated versions of data, rather than an ecosystem of collaboration. Here’s a tip: if they don’t want to talk about these five things, they may be hiding important details from you!


Don’t talk about cloud computing 

One data discovery vendor announced their new European data center by saying, “… co-located facility will support users of its cloud analytics tool… “ and “The selected data center is ISO 27001 certified and has a disaster recovery site located in Munich, Germany.” Notice the words ‘co-located’ and ‘selected’ and lack of any details on square footage, quantity of servers, security staff and so forth. These firms avoid all the investments and data center details because they subcontract their cloud to third parties. They don’t want to discuss is staffing, infrastructure, and facilities because they don’t own, operate or guarantee any of it!  Using Cognos Analytics on Cloud, you get services from IBM, using its cloud facilities, from its 40,000 cloud professionals.

Don’t talk about cloud security

One Cognos Analytics on Cloud client inquired, “Are guards hired by you for your company or shared?” and, “Are all facilities used exclusively by your company, or are some shared?”  What BI vendors don’t want to discuss is that they have little to no staff residing inside these data centers and may have no dedicated staff for physical, network, or data security. On December 9th,  I reviewed the web pages of four so-called competitors and found of 20+ job openings no postings for security specialists.  Two of four competitors offered solutions exclusively on cloud.  Who’s keeping on top of constant security threats?   Using Cognos Analytics, you get IBM professionals who make it their full-time job to specialize in security.   (IBM had 55 job postings for under search term ‘Cloud Security’)

Don’t talk about predictive analytics

One data discovery vendor promotes “The analytics your customers want”, but they’ll avoid the word ‘predictive.’  Their idea of analytics entails colorful graphs of what has happened without predictions of what will happen.  They don’t want to discuss full analytic capabilities such as regression, bootstrapping, time-series analysis, and statistical modeling. They’ll likely but unable to discuss something simple like random sampling methods so you won’t process every record in your database during analysis.  These so-called “BI” vendors don’t offer predictive analytics but rely upon highly-graphical charts using frequency, mean and average. Cognos Analytics offers predictive analytics to see where you’re going, not where you’ve been.

Don’t talk about cognitive capability

These supposed “BI” vendors got their reputation by delivering pretty graphs but lack robust statistical features, staffing, and platform scalability to make cognitive computing a reality. Cognitive requires predictive analytics as a foundation to learn, suggest and understand.  Our competitors don’t invest into an analytics workbench; therefore, their cognitive capabilities will always be limited. Using IBM, your cognitive experiences are being built upon the proven foundations of IBM SPSS and IBM Watson.

Don’t talk about data governance

One cloud BI vendor gives you no option but to REPLICATE your data to the cloud, thus avoiding any benefit of using existing hardware and database investments. They spin this duplication and extra effort as, “Keep data living behind a firewall fresh using the [product] sync client. This client runs on a computer within your firewall and securely manages the communications with [product]. The sync client ‘pushes’ extracts of your on-premises data to [vendor/product] on a given schedule.”  They made all this redundancy of multiple data sources into the cloud sound so positive.   You are required to continually duplicate your on-premises data to the cloud and hope everyone run reports from the same version of data. If you want everyone to report using ‘accurate’ data, you must sync/duplicate rather often.  What’s enough: each day, each hour, each minute?  Over 90% of our Cognos Analytics on Cloud clients use the data and investments they have on-premises today without duplication. Using Cognos Analytics, you use existing on-premises database investments, use cloud-based data, or the combination of the two.

If you want to create a nation of knowledge with users, and avoid these islands of dis-information, check out Cognos Analytics on Cloud or read our “Ten Differentiations” blog.