I have this weird perception in life to where everything I see I end up relating to Business Intelligence. This makes me sound like an extremely dull person, I know, but it does tend to create some good stories. As you can imagine, if you try and relate EVERYTHING to BI, there will be some pretty weak correlations in the comparisons. I try to use my best judgment before going public with these stories, but I may have had a lapse in judgment recently. It was either a great success or epic failure. Either way, I’m sure the people listening remembered it. That is my goal, whether they remember it in a good way or bad, at least they will take something away.
My lovely fiancée lost a bet to me and had to take me out on a date. The date she chose was to take me horseback riding for the very first time. Now I’m pretty adventurous, so I was excited about it. I really didn’t know what to expect and as we drove up to the ranch. I found out that I was most curious about what horse I would ride. I saw several horses standing there and I couldn’t help but assess which horse would be best for me. Luckily the workers chose… probably for the best. So I saw a wide array of horses, from huge muscular beasts to elderly mares with their posture in the shape of a “U”. I originally thought that I could handle the horse that looked like a race horse. This would be fun I thought, until I started imaging being bucked off and cracking my head open on the desert landscape. Then I looked at another horse. This one had the posture of the “U” variety, was missing an eye, and there were flies buzzing around its face. I thought I could definitely handle this one but I wasn’t too confident in its ability to haul me around the desert for a couple of hours. Nonetheless, I was paired with a horse somewhere in the middle. The only negative part about this horse was that it stopped at every bush for a snack. I would chalk this up to my short comings and lack of experience in controlling these majestic beasts.
So I thought this would be a good story to tell to a group of approximately 50 people at Business Intelligence seminar. In the middle of a 3 hour lecture I showed a picture of an extremely obese horse (I am assuming that it was Photo Shopped). I chose this picture because to my surprise all the pictures of one-eyed horses that were available probably weren’t appropriate to show around lunch time. It served its purpose, people’s eyes shot open like they were just hooked up to an IV of black coffee! I paused for effect as people drank in the picture and then looked at me to see what exactly was going on. So with a good amount of people staring at me with curiosity and a few colleagues in the back row laughing (they didn’t think I would actually do it) I realized that there was no turning back. I felt like I was in a rollercoaster as it reached the “point of no return”. Needless to say, they heard the analogy and it was successful.
So, what was the analogy? I related the experience of driving up to the ranch to the selection of a BI tool. Sometimes companies get excited and select a tool based on how it looks and the potential of what it may be able to accomplish, much like the race horse. Some companies realize that maybe they aren’t qualified and they want something safe, much like the one-eyed horse, so they stick with their Excel spreadsheets. What it comes down to is having someone with expertise and knowledge of the BI tools to help make the selection. Luckily, in the world of BI you would have been able to research each option. To relate this, I would have been able to know about each horse and what they were capable of relative to the others. Things you should always consider are budget, resources, talent, current environment, and future needs. I didn’t need a race horse to go through the desert when all I needed was a horse that could walk a few miles. I didn’t need a million dollar horse to take me on a two hour trail that was $40 with a Groupon. I needed a horse that could walk a few miles and follow the other horses because I definitely didn’t have the ability to communicate where it needed to go.
The moral of the story is that you should make your Business Intelligence decisions with the same common sense that you would make other decisions with. Research your options, determine your needs from wants, identify your priorities, and make a well-informed decision based off of information you have gathered. I would also suggest comparing the different options apples-to-apples, choose a vendor that you are confident in, and work with a company that you feel you can trust.