BizTech Blog

Business Intelligence Tools: Build or Buy?

Posted by Stephen Goldsmith

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Oct 1, 2013 12:33:00 PM

The Case for Pre-Built Oracle OBIEE Business Intelligence Applications

The need for instant, meaningful data has lead companies to finally realize the need to implement a Business Intelligence Solution. The days of the Excel spreadsheets, of hard coded Daily Flash Reports, or Access based sales metrics have at last disappeared over the Horizon. Good bye, old friends, you served us well! Now it is time to look to the future.

The idea of a BI solution and a data warehouse customized to your business, tailored to fit exactly your particular business model, may seem appealing at first glance. After all, the price of a customizable solution is often less (or so it may seem) than an off the shelf tool like Oracle Business Intelligence, Enterprise Edition (OBIEE), and besides, what does Oracle know about my business?

The answer is, a lot. A whole lot. With over 10,000 possible combinations of dashboards, reports and ad hoc methods to slice and dice the data, plus a proven, adaptable ETL warehousing tool, OBIEE is the best selling BI tool in the world for good reason.

Still not convinced? OK, let’s take a closer look at a theoretical company considering an out-of-the box solution like OBIEE versus to a “fully customizable” solution offered by say Brand X and Provider Y.

“We don’t use Oracle as our EBS System, so why would we use them for Business Intelligence? Brand X is tailored to fit our existing EBS system.” Careful about this one. What sort of adaptor does Brand X use to fit into your EBS system? And how often is it updated? And how much data can be pulled into the data warehouse on a regular basis? Are you limited in any way, shape or form by the tool? If the answer is yes (and with customizable tools, it usually is), then you cannot afford to go down that route.

Only Oracle ODI adaptors are guaranteed to pull data from almost every EBS system. Only OBIEE can handle most if not all of the bigger systems, and many of the smaller ones. Sure, Corporate headquarters may use EBS system A, but what if acquired Company 2 uses a a completely different EBS system? Or acquired company 3 uses yet another one? And two of our other legacy subsidiaries are still own their own system as well! Does that mean we’ll get no business intelligence data out of these companies? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. Only the Oracle ETL adaptors were built to specifically handle data from various or disparate sources. This was not an accident. This is the OBIEE advantage. Use it.

“I only need the BI Tool for a few reports. Brand X makes more sense.“ Initially, sure, this is possible, thus the need for the simpler model. However, an interesting observation we note of many of our clients is that once they get a taste of what BI tools can offer, they will eventually want more, more and more!

The thrill of creating actionable, drill-able reports in seconds, based on previously canned EBS reports, is one of the pure joys of working with the tools. Going from canned, lifeless reports to graphical, interactive reports, reports that show trends, predictive analysis and performance by any or all of your lines of business is the essence of true business intelligence. So click away! In today’s volatile, stressed economy, companies can’t afford to simply have “some” business intelligence at their disposal. Interactive Reports, Dashboards, KPI's, Metrics. Why not have it all?

“We just need a data warehouse. We can build one ourselves.” We’ve heard this one before. We’ve seen current clients originally try this approach. It seldom succeeds. Our advice is: Be very, very careful with this. Building a data warehouse is a complicated, detailed task. Making sure the blueprints are laid out correctly, that you are pointing to all the correct data sources, the warehouse is updated automatically, and the data is accurate is a challenging prospect for even the most experienced of Architects.

Do you want to entrust all of that that with an internal resource, no matter how experienced they may be? Really? Ask your team some other questions: Who takes ownership of this in IT, a department that is usually already stressed out? The project could take up to a year. Who has that bandwidth to on take on this type of role? And once the data is loaded, who in finance will have time to verify, to recalculate, to recommend changes? Building a customized data base is no small undertaking. Why not start with a pre-built one, a tool that has already been configured for most systems, one with the space, the joins and the tables to populate in a matter of weeks? Oracle OBIEE has been created exactly for this reason. Easy to implement, fast to load and proven to be extremely accurate, you will save yourself countless hours simply by avoiding these challenging questions just by picking the right tool.

“Provider X is cheaper. They offer a 10% lower implementation offering by going with Brand X, and promised to implement it in a matter of months. Plus, they are cheaper. Did I mention that?” Project Plans all start out with the best of intentions. Provider X will build a custom solution for your team, using the latest Brand X technology, and have users up and running in months. Sound great, right? Until reality sets in.

Did they account for all the X factors that happen in a project plan, like who are the key players, who will train the trainer, how will the data be loaded, who will develop and manage the plan, what are the credentials of the team and how to account for unforeseen scenarios? 3 months can sometimes turn into 3 years if you’re not careful.

OBIEE has been the best in show for years running because it IS so quick to implement, the consultants are well trained in its use, information about the product, including help desk and rapid response are readily available, and users find it remarkably intuitive and easy to use. The Total Cost of Ownership from implementing a pre-built solution is often significantly lower than that of a customized solution. Base your business decision on years, not months and you will make at the best buying decision for your firm.

So these are but a few of the reasons why going with a tried and true, pre-built Business Intelligence Solution is often the best decision for your firm. Oracle Business Intelligence implementations can often be performed in less than 3 months, hands on training is offered on-site or on-line and you’re get the comfort and security that comes from one of the best known names applications in the world, Oracle. Do your research, prepare a fit/gap analysis of all the available tools, and you’ll arrive at the logical conclusion: Why build when you can buy? Oracle Business Intelligence.

Topics: Oracle Business Intelligence, BizTech Insight Accelerator