BI: At The Heart Of Consolidation

by Amit Tripathi    Feb 24, 2005

Any enterprise today has a large number of complex applications running, which constantly need to talk to each other in order to deliver the right information. Hence, arises the need for a consolidated solution, a dashboard of sorts, to make decision making a relatively easier process. This consolidated approach, more commonly known as Business Intelligence (BI), will enable enterprises take a leap from knowing “what is happening” to “what best can happen.”

Speaking exclusively to CXOtoday, on the BI approach, and SAS’s BI capabilities, George Verghese, head - marketing & alliances, SAS India Pvt. Ltd., said “Gartner has observed that most BI initiatives fail due to CIO and user preoccupations with data warehousing rather than the analytics associated beyond it. The USP of SAS lies in rolling out BI as an integrated platform that comprises of an extraction, transfer, and load (ETL) tool; a storage repository, query and reporting tool; and finally, the analytic intelligence tool.”

“An integrated solution reduces the time in deriving required analysis which is very significant in the efficiency of a BI solution”, added Verghese.

Mahesh Ramamurthy, CIO, DCB, however, disagrees with Gartner’s analysis. “BI initiatives encounter lot of constraints especially in terms of hierarchical communication within an enterprise. More often questions like what purpose will a BI initiative fulfill, who makes the decision to implement the initiative, how will it be implemented are crucial towards the success of any BI initiative,” said Ramamurthy. According to him, the success of BI within an enterprise is a factor of business expectation facilitated by IT.

Discussing some of the pain points that CIO’s face while implementing a BI solution, Verghese says, “We need to look at it from two angles. One is the BI acceptance issue and the other is relating to BI roll out. For Indian CIOs and IT heads, the acceptance depends on the issues and challenges that a CIO is preoccupied with and how those challenges affect the top-line and the bottom-line of the organization.” Citing an example, Verghese clarifies that the IT head of a call centre may want to monitor differentiated customer services and thus would like to have most updated information. Thus according to Verghese, the adoption of BI varies from industry to industry.

With regards to the problems faced while rolling out a BI solution, Verghese explains that it is a factor of deft planning that an enterprise undertakes before conceptualizing BI. “Planning for BI is crucial and it requires a synergy between the user and the vendor. SAS uses it’s Project Management Methodology (PMM) to incorporate best practices for an enterprise. This PMM has been formulated by SAS through our experience in implementing BI solutions withinin enterprises world over.”

Explaining the need for integrated BI technology, Varghese said, “All of today’s enterprises own technologies such as ERP, CRM, SCM, Web services etc. in their corporate landscape. An integrated BI solution simply, puts an enterprise above the rest in culling out added analytics from all sorts of disparate data.”

Many might feel that implementing a BI solution is an overall expensive affair. However, Verghese feels very differently. “A low end statistical analysis tool from SAS on a single desktop is available for about Rs.3.5 Lakhs. Now, one has to look at the purpose a particular solution serves. If the user base is more one has to deploy the solution at the server level in which case the cost automatically rises. However, the CXO must note the revenue that the solution is generating as opposed to the cost of ownership.”

With regards to the SAS 9 BI solution, SAS’ latest BI offering, Verghese said, “This solution is scores in four areas, namely usability, scalability, interoperability (no fixed operating systems), and manageability.”

SAS India currently holds a market share of 22.5% and has more than 140 installations in the country. The verticals that drive it’s business are the BFSI, telecom, pharma and services sectors. The company is growing at more than 34 % while the overall BI market growth is pegged at 17%. Verghese also very happily mentioned that 98% of the SAS customers worldwide are renewing their licenses from SAS.