Andy on Enterprise Software

An unlikely source of BI ideas

February 23, 2007

I fully agree with an article by Steve Miller:

http://www.dmreview.com/article_sub.cfm?articleId=1076651

about how the Harvard Business Review is a surprisingly useful resource for people working in business intelligence. One of the recurring themes I have noticed over the years with projects going wrong is that the root cause of problems is more often people communications than technology. Of course as technologists we are inevitably drawn to the technical issues around the latest technology – performance, how buggy the software is etc, but few pieces of commercial software are so poor that they will cause a project to fail directly due to the software (I exempt Commerce One from this generalisation; it was that bad). The useful thing about Harvard Business review is that it gives some insight into the kind of issues that are confronting senior management, or at least about the kind of issues they are reading about.

However the HBR is rather hard work. There are rarely articles about technology directly (an exception was the November 2006 “Mastering the Three Worlds of Information Technology”) but technology often crops up within other articles, as Steve Miller points out. What I would add is that HBR can be a rather ponderous read. Their articles tend to be long and in-depth rather than bright and breezy, and there is a politically correct element about HR issues which can seem quite sanctimonious. But for every painfully worded article about the joys of diversity training there are several useful ones about current management trends and hot topics.

Speaking the same language as senior management is a stepping stone on the road to better understanding and communication, and that in turn will help improve the propsects of success for a BI project.