Borisevelson By Boris Evelson

I am appalled at what has been happening in the economy lately. Seems like we are moving from one crisis management to another. First it was the oil price increase crisis, now it’s the credit markets crisis, while the oil crisis seems to have disappeared. There are revolutionary approaches to solving these crises being thrown around very lightly and carelessly these days: nationalization of certain industries, redistribution of wealth and other extremist approaches. Haven’t we learned from history? Don’t we know by now that revolutions do not work? It’s been proven time and time again in Soviet Union, China, Cuba and many other nations that revolutions only lead to disasters: terror, holocausts, starvation, turning societies and social structures upside down, and people leading miserable existence. I know. I lived in one of those countries. I do not want to live in another country going through revolution.

What happened to the good old “let’s hold the steady course” common sense? Knee jerk reactions may provide band aid short term solutions, but they always create more problems in the long term. What we need in our economy, our government, and in our Business Intelligence (BI) initiatives is a steady course. I've lived through too many ups and downs in the economic cycles to know that in the end it's the long term strategy, not short term fixes or short term knee jerk reactions that really matter and make us ultimately successful. Steady, well planned, carefully thought out evolution, vs revolution, is what differentiates a successful society and an enterprise vs. doomed ones.

Luckily, many of you out there agree with me. I know, since I asked a couple of hundred of my clients earlier this morning the following questions:

  1. Have your BI initiatives been affected (budget, priorities, staffing, requirements, etc) by the recent economic conditions?
  2. If yes, how
    a. Change in budget
    b. Change in staffing
    c. Change in prioritization
    d. Change in requirements
    e. Other, please elaborate
  3. Are these changes and implications more or less severe for BI initiatives as compared to other IT initiatives (infrastructure, security, ERP applications, etc)?
  4. Do you think there will now be a higher priority placed on streamlining, re-use, consolidation, centralizing BI initiatives vs. addressing new functional requirements?
  5. Would you recommend that I place higher priority on recession specific research (for example “recession proofing your BI initiatives”) vs. research that is applicable to all economic conditions such as best practices, methodologies, vendor selection, use cases, case studies, etc?

While the answers are still trickling in, the following patterns are already emerging:

  • Over 60% of you said that your BI budgets are not being cut. The other 30% are seeing BI budgets being cut, but not due to the current economic conditions, rather due to larger long term BI streamlining and consolidation initiatives.
  • Over 66% of you said that new or improved BI functionality is still at the top of your priority lists vs. consolidation and centralization initiatives.
  • Over 60% of you said that you would rather continue to see research that is applicable to any economic conditions. Those who wanted to see recession specific research were very explicit that we should attribute a relatively small portion of research to that theme.

I really thank all of you out there for soothing my heart, and restoring my confidence and belief in long term strategic planning that at least my fellow BI professionals are holding the steady course with comments like:

  • “We really need help in the Best Practices, Methodologies, Use Cases and Case Studies area…the recession alignment is really not what we need.  I think we get that”
  • “Our needs are clearly on new functionality requirements.  We strive to make BI more than just query & reporting.  We want operational/predictive BI to help our business make better decisions faster.”
  • “These are best practices that should be done regardless of economic conditions.”
  • “Focus on business case, if you have  a compelling business case that is recession proof”
  • “BI in our commercial environments is a market enabler so cost becomes less of a factor”
  • “We do see improving BI as a critical initiative across many of our business processes from sales to HR. Many groups within are company are currently undertaking or evaluating projects to improve BI for reporting and analytics to improve response time, improve supply chain, improve revenue, etc”
  • “Functionality first!”
  • “By-in-large stay the course”

I wish our government leaders were as smart as many of you! Stay the course, continue to enable your business to be efficient, agile and effective. Help them make better decisions to increase revenues and cut costs. Flag_2

And, most importantly, stay away from revolutions!