Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence is, quite simply, the process of moving information around to the people that need it. Every company does Business Intelligence. Whenever an employee puts together a spreadsheet and emails it to another, that is as much a business intelligence operation as a multi-million dollar software package.

Undertaking a Business Intelligence project can be an expensive and time-consuming operation. Companies must consider databases, ETL (Extraction, Transformation, and Load) processes and products, reporting tools, and all of the various server hardware and software required to support these processes and products. Also to be considered are the time and effort employees put into their current processes, additional costs of obtaining any new data required, maintenance costs, and effort required to make all of the parts work together.

Merren Technology LLC provides consulting services to help large and small firms through all aspects of the planning, developing, implementation, and maintenance of Business Intelligence systems. With experience using both commercial, open source, and homegrown Business Intelligence systems, we can provide a perspective that is not tied to any particular vendor or solution. With extensive experience working with a broad range of clients and industries, we can help companies avoid the major pitfalls generally associated with Business Intelligence projects, including:

  • Lack of understanding of current business intelligence processes. Many projects move forward without analyzing the processes that employees currently undertake and the data requirements that these processes fulfill.
  • No clear picture of the reporting requirements. Without a solid understanding of what kind of information should come out of the downstream end of a system, it is impossible to determine what should be fed in the front end.
  • Choosing the "best tools" without knowing the job they will do. ETL tools need to be selected based on the nature and complexity the data management requirements. Reporting tools may lack important features, or may provide expensive unused functionality.
  • Assuming that a tool will provide the business processes to get the job done, or the domain knowledge to help meet business needs. Software vendors are technical experts, not domain experts. They sell hammers, and everything looks like a nail to them. The customer must know what their business does and what it needs to operate.
  • Failure to plan for integration efforts. "Off-the-shelf" components often do not simply work together, even ones from the same vendor. Despite claims of "sharing metadata" or "end-to-end" solutions, components and systems always require configuration to work together.
  • Failure to understand existing data sources and the effort required to bring disparate data together. Many projects are delayed or even killed due to misunderstandings of the depth, breadth, consistency, and quality of available data. Seemingly simple efforts, such as merging customer lists from disparate departments, compiling lists of products, or collecting sales figures from across an enterprise can become extremely complex when the actual data quality and quantity is analyzed.

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