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BI challenges won’t go away

After well over a decade of installing new business intelligence (BI) tools, technologies and processes, corporate IT operations still face hurdles in implementing what most firms have long labeled a critical activity. Creating a system to gather, store and analyze critical data has long been considered a panacea for most corporate departments, but implementing effective systems is becoming more and more difficult.

As veteran IT journalists Peter Bochner and Jack Vaughan find in this month’s Cover Story, “BI today: One version of the truth ,” implementing the ideal BI system continues to challenge most organizations despite technical advancements and improved ROI numbers. Experts say most projects continue to have difficulty overcoming organizational issues, getting multivendor solutions to interoperate and keeping track of a continuing explosion of corporate data -- whether internal data, purchased data, e-mail data, or data from the Web or from wireless communications.

The authors take a look at how several IT operations are coping with the issue, and how developers need not always go by the book when building BI systems. But the goal of such systems is pretty consistent among IT folks -- to build a system that can provide numbers to users from data gathered and stored in offices throughout the world to, as Danny Siegel, senior manager, business technology in the Global Pharmaceuticals Division at Pfizer Inc. puts it, create “one version of the truth.”

Despite the difficulties, our story finds Pfizer and other large companies are building innovative and productive business intelligence systems that are showing some real promise. We’ll keep an eye on the progress.

This issue also features a look at IBM’s software business . Editor-at-Large Vaughan and I spent a couple of days at the Software Group’s headquarters in Somers, N.Y., and spoke to the authors of an ever-evolving Big Blue software strategy. IBM software chief Steve Mills and each of his lieutenants defined to us a strategy that embraced industry standards, open-source technologies and partnerships -- a model that would have been anathema to IBM executives not too many years ago when the company built numerous proprietary hardware platforms and the proprietary software to run them.

In an era when there is no clear “next big thing,” and flagging IT budgets are forcing corporate software buyers to be more selective, understanding the strategies of key suppliers is essential. A bad decision could cause corporate ruin. Our goal is to describe the strategy from the eyes of IBM, industry experts and customers.

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.

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