When the Right Combination of Technologies  Creates Far More than the Sum of its Parts

BI, Analytics & Reporting

- 3 min read

When the Right Combination of Technologies Creates Far More than the Sum of its Parts

Throughout the history of IT, we’ve seen sharp inflection points where additive technologies suddenly sparked new business for what had been until then marginal or experimental technologies. Take for example minicomputers, which didn’t really find acceptance in enterprises until they layered on multi-function data storage and management platforms with apps to input, process and focus outputs precisely fit to business requirements.

In the consumer realm, PCs and laptops didn’t find market traction until Suites of Office Automation applications were added. And the ubiquitous Smart Phones we rely on would not have flourished in the market without consumer-friendly apps running on intuitive operating systems that five-year-olds can master quickly.

Why a single software platform is better than multiple parts

These milestones in history, or “Tipping Points,” as author Malcolm Gladwell called them, demonstrate incontrovertibly that delivering the right additive functionality on a single platform improves productivity and efficiencies at all levels of business and consumer use. The alternative is trying to use separate devices that have been bolted together for business reasons, but with little consideration for underlying technologies or compatibility.

Consider, for example, just how long separate platforms existed for word processors and spreadsheets prior to Office, or separate devices for voice vs. data communications. Remember pagers or those early clamshell texting devices? Those that didn’t combine functionality seldom survived on their own.

So the question then is why doesn’t this principle apply at the corporate enterprise level? Specifically in my market –BI and analytics – why are business and IT leaders deploying systems with limited functionality that display a single area of expertise, such as graphical displays or complex analytics that require data scientists to perform and interpret?

There are mega vendors that have added functionality through acquisitions, but the result usually forces customers to deal with multiple systems and user interfaces to get the full benefits. And there are smaller firms that enable simplified creation of analytical visualizations, but can’t dive deeply into sales and operational forecasting for true performance management, never mind meet the demands of enterprise data scientists.

Three reasons why BI solutions don’t deliver value

I think there are three primary reasons why too many companies have settled for BI systems with limited functionality:

  1. Most vendors find it very difficult to create a single, easy-to-use platform with all of the functionality required for business users to easily and quickly see returns on investments. It’s less costly to bolt together disparate technologies from acquired companies, even though they’re incompatible on many levels, and burn up resources needlessly to work as promised.
  2. It’s far more profitable for these vendors to charge extremely large professional services fees on top of license fees to smooth out the rough edges, and enable the translations needed for the new combined technologies to produce expected results.
  3. Over-promising and under-delivering BI capabilities and ROI during the past 20+ years have given BI and analytics the reputation of being over-priced and risky propositions in the eyes of the C-levels who need to approve enterprise-wide purchases.

We’ve taken a different approach at BOARD with the creation of a single platform that delivers the full complement of BI, analytics and performance management capabilities – including self-service data discovery for what-if experiments – from which any business user can quickly extract valuable results without specialized training or the assistance of an IT department, AND can then discover many other analytical capabilities to benefit other lines of business as well as the entire corporation.

What has your experience been with analytics platforms?

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