As usual, Philip Howard has some thoughtful comments on the subject of enterprise data warehousing. The recent plethora of data warehouse appliances, pioneered by Netezza but now popping up from companies ranging from start-ups to HP, certainly has the potential to change the data warehouse landscape. However as Philip points out, it is less clear that data warehouse appliances need be connected with” ubiquitous BI”. I have written previously st some length on my view that there is really no obvious reason for the “democratisation of data” i.e. with anyone in the company having unfettered access to corporate data using whizzy reporting tools. Quite apart from whether the tools are really cuddly enough (doubtful) the question rarely asked is why would this vision be necessary or even appropriate? There are certainly people in a company whose job it is to analyse data: they would be, er, analysts. Everyone else pretty much needs a limited set of data to get on with their jobs, and certainly I would be nervous if every factory worker and truck driver in a company decided to spend an hour or two a day investigating corporate data warehouses. A salesman needs a limited of set of numbers in a year: “here is your quota” while I struggle to see why people outside finance or marketing (and only a subset of those) really need to be spending their time wrestling with data at all.
To be sure one class of people benefits from a “BI tool on every desktop”: vendors, both BI vendors and those selling associated databases and hardware. I have yet to read any articles in Harvard Business Review from CEOs complaining that their profits would be higher if only every employee in the company had a BI tool. BI ubiquity seems to me a solution in search of a problem.