Today’s savvy executive is concerned about intense global competition and the rapid pace of change. These concerns force executives to make sure that they equip people to contribute their best ideas, that information is used effectively for competitive advantage and that processes adapt to respond quickly to threats and opportunities. Companies that do all three will have an edge over those that don’t.
Related to these challenges, there’s lots of talk about service-oriented architecture (SOA), business process management (BPM) and business intelligence (BI) in IT and business management circles. Some argue one over the other, some argue convergence. I feel that good SOA leads to better BPM, because to me it just makes sense that adding a flexible orchestration environment on top of a componentized architecture makes for more agile business processes and, in turn, a more responsive business. But this combination still leaves the real business driver – the clever ideas people derive from information they work with every day– out of the picture.
I think that argues for some tighter relationship between SOA, BPM and an improved form of business intelligence over the traditional report-centric deployments we see. Again, it just makes sense to me that to win in a competitive world you need to equip people to discover great new ideas in the sales, marketing, financial, production, R&D, HR and other information contained in systems (or services) available to you. Some of that data is part of a formal business process and some isn’t, so the link between BPM and better BI shouldn’t be too tight. Still, how much better could you compete if you were getting snapshots of real-time data to see, interrogate to find something new, and act on by changing the automated process on the fly?
Instead, the current reality for many traditional BI customers consists of long queues for new reports because one question always leads to another; high numbers of custom or commercial applications amortized over small groups to compensate for the lack of adaptability (and BPM integration); and/or ubiquitous spreadmarts that at least give people some personal control over the data they want to analyze – even if it is sensitive or quickly out of date. I’ve learned this from many meetings with CIOs, sometimes with those resigned to its permanent state. It’s time we recognize these symptoms of traditional BI for what they are: a competitive edge for someone else. That ain’t right.
I think the truth is that there aren’t many people who need another static report, dashboard or spreadsheet file. Probably fewer still who need a custom application to step them through their special data analysis challenge. What people need is a flexible, fast data analysis environment configured to their decision-making and business processes while still properly connected to changing and secure data sources. This is where a better form of BI (let’s call it next generation BI because it fits) can work alongside SOA and BPM to enable great business.
To improve business performance, companies need a better way to link BI and automated business processes. Today’s BPM software lacks the analytic capabilities required to inform decisions at the right moment in the process. Today’s BI software is detached from the business process it informs. Companies that link these capabilities effectively will have an edge. TIBCO is bringing the leading SOA, BPM and next generation BI capabilities together to help customers get an advantage in an increasingly competitive world, delivering real-time intelligence at the right time and the right place.
This is just the tip of the iceberg: as companies adopt service-oriented architecture while cataloging and automating business processes, right-time BI will become the norm. The final outcome will be heightened productivity and a radical new way to compete.
About the expert
Roger Oberg is Vice President of Product Strategy for the Spotfire division of TIBCO Software Inc. Spotfire is a leading provider of enterprise analytics software for next generation business intelligence. Prior to joining Spotfire, Roger was Vice President of Strategy and Marketing for the Rational division of IBM.