Agile BI from the road – reflections of a road warrior

Last week was not just the celebration of the anniversary of the Pentaho Agile BI initiative, it was also the conclusion of my detective tour throughout the US to both teach and learn about Agile BI.  I call this a detective tour because we really use these types of events to investigate and better understand just what’s going on in the marketplace and what BI challenges companies are trying to overcome. Over the past 4 months Pentaho has visited over 26 cities worldwide with the Agile BI Tour – Data to Dashboards in Minutes. I was at 15 of the cities across the US presenting on our Agile BI Initiative along with our partners.

These live, free workshops were ideal for attendees to learn because of the depth of demonstrations,  discussion of our Agile BI integration development environment and actual customer implementation examples. I personally found it very rewarding being on the ground and speaking with hundreds of BI users (or soon-to-be users). I had the usual slide presentations and demonstrations, yet found that in the majority of the cities, our time would consist of 70% Q&A and 30% slides. Along with the in-depth conversations I had with companies of all sizes across the US, I was also able to analyze the results of the survey’s we received back from almost every attendee of the Agile BI tour. Drawing from my experience on the road and survey analysis, I have four major observations of the current state of Agile BI:

  1. There remains a crying need for a better BI solution in the marketplace.
  2. In almost all of the cities, the majority of attendees were already users of existing BI solutions, mostly those from the traditional vendors such as SAP/Business Objects, IBM/Cognos, Oracle, Microstrategy and others.  While this was initially was a shock, their answers to the questionnaire revealed the dissatisfaction and challenges with existing solutions, and to a large degree, why they are looking for alternatives.
  3. An overwhelming number of attendees responded that their number one challenge with their existing BI solutions was cost followed closely by the lack of IT resources to get their projects done.  Additional related factors included the complexity of existing BI solutions and the time it takes to get BI reports.
  4. Simply put, most users of BI need better, less expensive solutions that can deliver critical analytic data and reports faster. In spite of all of the BI solutions that are available today from the traditional BI vendors, the market and users still find themselves struggling with the core basics of putting more and better BI in the hands of users.

I can’t wait until January and we are back on the road to more locations and more users with the Agile BI Tour.  And of course, we are not slowing down on the product front either with very exciting product plans in the works for next year.  For Pentaho and our users, 2011 promises to be an exciting year.

Joe Nicholson
VP Product Marketing and Agile BI Road Warrior
Pentaho

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