BI in SA is still “immature”

Susan Andre2002

ITWeb releases the results of its first ever Business Intelligence Survey

A business intelligence survey run by online IT news provider ITWeb has shown that local BI initiatives are still "immature", focussing as they do on implementing the required IT components rather than on developing and executing enterprise-wide BI strategies.

This is according to Marius Ackerman, the owner of Abic – a Pretoria-based independent data warehousing and BI consultancy. Ackerman compiled the questionnaire for the BI survey and analysed the results received.

The BI survey was run on ITWeb's site for just over a month earlier this year and attracted 210 respondents from within ITWeb's readership base. Sagent South Africa sponsored a free BI assessment worth R20 000 for one lucky reader to encourage the respondents to complete the questionnaire. Sagent also hosted a business breakfast for these respondents at the Hilton in Sandton today (Thursday, March 7), where the results of the survey were presented by ITWeb Editor-in-Chief Ranka Jovanovic. Sagent offers a fully integrated yet modular and open data warehousing and business intelligence solution, enabling companies to measurably impact their business by implementing initiatives such as highly targeted customer relationship and financial management.

These results show that although executive management teams in SA are beginning to recognise the importance of BI, it is still not regarded as important by operational managers – such as account, sales and marketing managers. In fact, 41% of the respondents indicated that their companies had not yet appointed specific people or teams to ensure BI initiatives ran smoothly and correctly. Also of concern was that in those companies that had assigned someone to drive their BI projects, just under 40% had chosen their chief information officers to do so.

"This sends a warning sign to those committed to developing BI into a strategic enabler. An integrated and effective BI system requires a focussed approach from both IT and business representatives," says Ackerman.

"Maybe the time is right for the emergence of a chief intelligence officer in those organisations are that really serious about making BI work."

In addition, although over half the respondents said their companies had BI projects in place, 50% said no formal process existed for the collection, analysis and dissemination of the information collected.

"These findings are alarming," says Ackerman. "An ad hoc approach to BI can lead to inaccurate and misleading intelligence output with dire consequences if this is used to make important business decisions."

Ackerman also points out that the results of the survey showed that, in general, SA companies lacked a clear understanding on the nature and scope of true, effective BI initiatives.

"Also of interest was the lack of knowledge displayed by respondents regarding the methods available for BI analysis purposes. This clearly indicates the need to raise awareness and provide training," says Ackerman.