False reasons why enterprises aren't interested in SaaS

According to a Forrester Research survey (source: CIO.com), these are the top reasons to say no to SaaS:
  1. Integration issues.
  2. Total cost of ownership concerns.
  3. Lack of customization.
  4. Security concerns.
I an convinced these reasons are wrong. APIs and microformats speak for better integration. In my experience, TCO is one of the main reasons why companies want to try Good Data platform. Customization depends on application, no matter whether it's SaaS or not. And security? Your data are more secure in a cloud out there than in your own house.

Mike West, VicePresident and Senior Strategy Consultant with Saugatuck Technology, comments the survey:
I hope everyone realizes that Forrester polled only IT managers. [...] SaaS is really primarily a business solution that disintermediates the IT department, shifting workloads to the cloud. If IT is concerned about SaaS -- and Cloud Computing, as well -- it may be because more SaaS means smaller, more management-oriented IT. Defending the IT department's technical turf by resisting the considerable business benefits of SaaS is a disfunctional (but completely understandable) response to this burgeoning phenomenon.
He's very right. And the four reasons aren't reasons why companies are not interested in SaaS. They are the reasons why IT managers are scared of SaaS, scared of change.

New twist on data analysis

BI failures tend to be at least as spectacular as the successes. Some companies spent the GNP of several small countries a few years back producing "decision support" systems and data warehouses that never matched up with rapidly changing user requirements.

Things have changed. A multitude of products and tools to build BI applications are available today, and their cost is plunging. The whole BI and online analytical processing market changed irrevocably.

BI is one of the fastest growing segments of the software business. The fact that BI vendors are flourishig, despite the distractions and budget drains caused by Y2K preparations -

Stop! Y2K? Well I have something to admit. The previous paragraphs were cited from the Enterprise Development magazine, September 1999.

A lot of interesting stuff is written there: Newest releases appeal to a diverse user base and feature an adaptable architecture for deploying BI solutions. Decision support for the masses, finally. OLAP goes on the Web. Put the spreadsheet out to pasture.
Wayne Eckerson, director of research and services with TDWI, noted that for the past 10 years BI has targeted the technological-savvy employee—the super-user. He pointed to TDWI data showing that a mere 24 percent of users actually access BI tools. "It’s a huge problem [underscoring] why BI is not invasive," Eckerson told the crowd.
However, a common theme projected throughout Information Builders keynotes and sessions is the idea that BI is no longer just a back-office tool.

These words were written today, and you can find the same thoughts in the 9-years-old magazine. The magazine does not exist anymore, Y2K is over, and the BI issues, mmm still the same "new twist", n'est-ce pas?

Don't improve things you're not asked to

S-CurveImage by 96dpi via FlickrRecently I worked as a BI consultant for a big bank. I was responsible for their metadata warehouse solution.

We would like to integrate our data dictionary with your solution, they told me.

Data dictionary? I asked and they explained.

Oh I see, I replied, you're talking about business nomenclature. And I explained what business nomenclature means in terms of metadata warehouse, the CWM standard etc.

Then there was a presentation where I explained everything once more. I believed my presentation was quite good but I missed a point. I was strict in using "business nomenclature" because hey, I was right, wasn't I?

I understand you but where is our data dictionary? That was the first question.

So don't try to narrow paths that are given. Especially when you're not asked to do it.

Mark Madsen writes about the same issue although his issue is the ideology of bad non-centralized Excel data in BI:

We're facing the incomplete data problem because of another piece of BI ideology: all the data must be centrally managed. This is unrealistic. We can't possibly house every last bit of data. Because of this reality, BI tools like Business Objects added the ability to bring outside data into reports. Other vendors moved the BI processing to the PC.

Our ideology has failed us by setting up a paradox. If we do use these features or tools, then we contribute to our biggest complaint about Excel — manipulation of data outside the centrally integrated view. If we don’t use them then users will continue to circumvent BI tools.

Mark is right, people use and will use Excel. Don't try to convince them they're wrong because they are not. Just take it as a fact and build on it. Put the twisting path to use.

Reaching out for good data

When do you talk about good data? Google returns sentences like these:
  • "We don't have really good data..."
  • "Once we have good data..."
  • "It's hard to make good policy decisions when they're not grounded in good data."
  • "If you have good data..."
  • "Do you have good data to validate your opinion?"
These are not positive statements but there's a hope the world will be better (once, if).

There is a difference between good data (data quality) and Good Data BI platform. However, I cannot resist to convert the sentences:
  • "We don't have really Good Data..."
  • "Once we have Good Data..."
  • "It's hard to make good policy decisions when they're not grounded in Good Data."
  • "If you have Good Data..."
  • "Do you have Good Data to validate your opinion?"
It makes sense, doesn't it? Well it's not enough to have good data, you need a good analytical tool too.