Thursday, June 3, 2010

If you had one wish... wish for BI

I sat on a panel this past trip to Las Vegas, and we spoke a variety of subjects.   The last question sparked the most interest for me personally, as it dared to ask "If you could have three wishes for your business, what would they be.". In reality, we each offered one wish

Besides the joke of piles of money, my colleagues on stage answered with good ideas that boost their businesses.   One was a full sales pipe full of potential clients who he could sell services to.  Another was offering the idea of accelerated profitability in their business.

My answer surprised a lot of folks.  I asked for a fully functioning Business Intelligence (BI) practice, such that I didn't have to build one, and had it running and ready now.

Why the radically different approach?

If you think about adding "more" to your business, you might be increasing the next quarter, or four quarters, but are you taking your business to the next level?   Double your sales pipe - sure it increases revenue, but does it protect you from changing dynamics in the market?   If I double your profitability, does that slow the drive to commoditization that all industries and products suffer from?

I'm not a doom sayer.  I don't believe that the IT solution provider business is going to disappear, driven to the cloud and make irrelevant.   As long as there are businesses that don't do IT as their mission, they will continue to need partners to help with their technology needs.

I do, however, believe that as our industry continues to mature, it will move more and more to advanced services.   Most of us don't service hardware, which used to be a huge portion of what we did.   Many don't even sell hardware anymore, viewing it as commodity.   Services themselves morphed into various flavors of managed services, and even those continue to trend, even slowly, towards the idea of being a commodity.

Thus, sitting on your laurels and doing "more" of the same isn't a long term plan.  Doubling your pipe doesn't help ensure you'll be there in ten years.   If you want to build a long term asset, you have to continue to mature.

The next leap in what we do is more challenging, however. Rather than deliver more technology services, we have to start delivering business driven technology services.   This is a subtle difference, but where Business Intelligence comes in.

Using technology to deliver business information in a timely manner is an order of magnitude different from managing the pipes we manage now.   Thus, business intelligence.