Let’s face it. Every provider of Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics would love nothing more than to see organisations consolidate and unify under their platform or brand. It’s the reality of standardisation.
The expectation is a seamless transition, but is that the reality?
Do all tools deliver the same results?
On the surface, it might seem so – in the end they all offer data visualisations. But delve deeper, and you’ll find vast disparities, from distinct authoring methods to chart originality. A tool that offers reporting cannot simply be replaced by one that doesn’t. For instance, substituting Cognos’s reporting functionalities with a desktop tool, particularly with data governance or external consumer requirements, isn’t just ill advised, it’s reckless.
It’s not just analytics vendors that are driving this narrative. Key decision-makers frequently opt to ‘switch’ tools when they procure a new one. The allure of reducing licences and associated costs is just too much for some, but like the sirens in the water, they often pull our attention away from the real danger. The cost of switching. Let’s break it down:
It’s great transitioning to a new tool with all its new bells and whistles, but you need to actually learn how to use the thing. Not only that, but you need to transfer any content from the existing system into the new one, placing a burden on the current content owners in terms of time and effort.
This becomes a people issue. Inform someone that you’re altering the tools and tasks they’re accountable for, and they’ll be inclined to shift to the new tool, or if that isn’t viable, they might choose to leave. If they leave, you risk delay and the loss of institutional knowledge.
The argument that existing staff will migrate the required content oversimplifies the business case. What about the new content and the aspirations of being data-driven that everyone is striving for? To demonstrate the value derived from this new expense promptly, you’ll need additional hands-on deck for these projects. More people equals more money. Money that you probably didn’t account for in the first place.
Operating multiple systems simultaneously will inflate hosting costs. We mustn’t forget the databases and source systems. Recall the challenges of conducting load and stress testing against production sources.
Losing users comes at a high price. This group is likely to voice the most objections. They may have advocated for improvements in the analytics experience, but standardisation implies a total change. During this period, this group is likely to fragment further. Rogue tools, new data export requests, or simply surrendering in the quest for the information they need can result in severe damage. This strays you further from the transparent and aligned data-driven culture you’re aiming for.
Keep in mind – Users who are vocal about their experience are the ones using it. Don’t mistake engagement and passion for bitching and moaning. You want engagement because it leads to enhancements and betterment across the board. Let’s not even talk about Outlook!
While you can try to minimise this expense, as the deployment of the new tools gets closer, users will need access to both. Validation and confidence building, as well as contingency planning if things go awry, are crucial for success (which is rare). It’s our firm belief that the BI and Analytics market figures floating around are inflated, as most users have multiple tools doing the same job.
Choosing not to invest in people to do the work equates to prolonged timelines. All vendors advocate the ‘time to value’ concept, but this is only achievable with simplistic projects and some “Services” to assist or train along the way.
So, what do we truly gain when we switch from one tool to another?
- Wasted time
- Recreating content that is already accepted and available. (There are no migration tools available between vendors only services groups.)
- Increased expenditures
- Training, duplication of resources (human and financial)
- Missed opportunities.
- Forfeiting chances to create new content for new projects and analytics to effect better changes.
In this context, a SWITCH implies a:
- Increase in
- Cost of
- Holistic ownership.
If you’re contemplating a switch, here’s some advice:
- Rearticulate the desired outcomes.
- Reimagine the problem without the solution.
- Reassess how the solution will meet the outcomes and tackle the problems, equipped with the insights above to determine if the cost is justified.
In our opinion, the only solid argument for switching is if the current solution is no longer vendor-supported.
Your Mind is Set on Consolidation
If you’re still keen on consolidation, bear in mind the inevitable truth. There’s no one-size-fits-all “ring”. While BI platforms might be replaceable at a high cost, they’re no longer the only sources for analytics. Every solution provider has a strategy to introduce or enhance the analytics provided on their platform. Often, these aren’t accessible to other tools or necessitate manual Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) of data.
To put it another way, what does consolidation or standardisation truly mean for your business? Could a Unification strategy be a more fitting approach? Let’s consider some typical outcomes:
|Single place for analytics||FAIL|
External applications exist
Spend happens elsewhere as teams retool (shadow Ops).
Reduction of ‘legacy’ tooling content happens over time by users naturally as does the expense.
Disruption, forced into a single tool, change is hard.
Best tool for a job survives, minor changes, natural transitions.
|Data Literacy||FAILOne tool can’t do it all, multiple places still exist.||PASS|
Users are unified to access analytics; Uses are exposed to more analytics and use cases.
This should serve as an awakening for many data and analytics team owners (including executives). Consolidation has been a catastrophe, benefiting only service teams and vendors for the past 15+ years.
Some vendors were wise enough to see the value of a side-by-side approach, but the collective end users were overlooked, leading to negative outcomes.
There is a Harmony to All This
To put it simply, we think that Unification and harmony is the strategy with the most tangible benefits at the user level. It’s a strategy that’s already being implemented with considerable expenditure at the data layer with virtualisation, data catalogues and metrics stores (but is likely to fail due to the lack of end-user consideration).
If you’re operating in an environment with multiple Data and Analytics tools (as everyone is), you owe it to yourself, your organisation, and your staff to explore unification and harmonisation.
For more information please contact Digital Hive, today.