Data analysis seeks broad redemption

You don't typically associate data warehousing with cutting costs. The practice suffers from a history of bloated, over-budget projects that sullied the image of data analytics in general.

You don't typically associate data warehousing with cutting costs. The practice suffers from a history of bloated, over-budget projects that sullied the image of data analytics in general. This situation was further frustrated by the implementation of tightly locked ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications that effectively transfer operational data between ERP modules but are nearly impossible to crack for data analysis.

In the world of CRM (customer relationship management) and SCM (supply-chain management), which are being linked to existing back-end systems, this disregard for analytics will cause much more serious problems for IT than will the frustration of CEOs or CFOs over the high cost of ERP. CRM and business-to-business applications such as those geared for the supply chain are all about compiling customer or partner information and using it intelligently.

On the other hand, the organisational issues involved in sharing information among different corporate fiefdoms are worse in CRM and supply-chain applications than they are in other types of business applications.

This time around may be different, however. Application integration has been a hot topic in the industry for years, but data integration has quietly become more sophisticated as well. That technology is being driven in part by better recognition among vendors that "closed" end-to-end e-business systems simply don't exist for most enterprises.

At a time when IT-driven projects meet more scrutiny, the ability of IT and business people to find savings in their BI (business intelligence) projects becomes even more crucial.

That means more people need daily access to data analysis in their workplaces. Ease of use for end-users, another perennial BI challenge, is the next barrier to widescale adoption.

Does data analysis get a bum rap, or is it still a technology searching for a palpable ROI?

Write to me at martin_lamonica@infoworld.com.

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