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Avoiding the Cost and Pain of BI Projects

In the interest of full disclosure, I did not come up with the title for this post. Another company did, which is why I decided to use it because avoiding the cost and pain of BI projects is the goal for anyone who is involved in BI. but, despite many companies’ claims, it is very difficult to do. Here’s why:

Discovery: Today, most organizations have many databases, data warehouses, data lakes and SaaS applications across different vendors, leaving data distributed across many locations in different formats. Knowing where all the related data for a given topic lives is extremely difficult and time-consuming.

Access: Assuming you can find the data, you may not necessarily have access to the system that houses the data. Finding the person does now becomes yet another game in large companies and one that can be frustrating.

Ingestion: Current ETL or ELT processes ingest entire databases or datasets causing delays in data movement and increases in the cost to store the data. Furthermore, sometimes IT or analysts don't know what they are looking for, so they move more data than they need and then remove what isn’t pertinent to the question at hand. This process is incredibly time-consuming, error-prone and inefficient.

Data Quality: Not all data is created equally. In many instances, you can find similar table names across multiple vendors. Deciding which table to choose is a cumbersome, time-consuming process. Adding to the pain, once you’ve chosen the right table, it has to be manually cleansed to eliminate duplicate values, invalid record lengths, unique values or unknown records.

Report Development: Determining the output can be one of the most difficult and labor-intensive steps. Now that all of your data has been prepared, what question are you actually answering? How should that be represented? Do you have to start over if your question changes?

If you are reading through this list and starting to get sweaty palms, don't fret. There are solutions out there. But beware. They may sound like true, automated end-to-end solutions, but most of them are not. Some companies claim that their approach means a non-technical person can simply ask a question and get an answer immediately when the reality is that the user is essentially just picking through a list of canned reports and pre-loaded questions. The reports cannot be customized. They are hardwired, with no flexibility, and demand weeks of data preparation and integration in the onboarding process. Other companies may take it one step further towards a degree of customization, but even their solutions still require human dependency to manually assemble the tables.

With Promethium, there can be little to no human dependency. That is worth repeating, but I won’t. Oh, why not. With Promethium, there is no human dependency. Everything is customizable and fully automated. Because I haven’t had lunch yet, I will use a cooking metaphor to illustrate this point.

I want to make chicken marsala. I have some of the ingredients at home, but after spending 20 minutes looking for them, decide to just buy everything at the store. I don’t know where the ingredients are in the store, and I don't even really know what ingredients I need. Since I don't want to make a second trip later, I wander the isles, adding all of the ingredients I think I will need to my cart. I know I am over purchasing a lot of ingredients, but I will just have to return the unnecessary items later.

Once back home, I take out all of my ingredients. I chop the sage, shallots, onions and mushrooms. The recipe tells me that I have to cook the chicken first, so I sautee the other ingredients in the broth. Once cooked down, I add in the cream, add the marsala (or is it the marsala and then the cream?) and simmer until done. By this point, I am mad with hunger, and I could have had a private chef cook it for the cost of everything I purchased.

Here is the same experience with Promethium. I remember once that I had a creamy, rich chicken dish with some sort of wine in it. So I ask Promethium what this might be and it tells me ‘chicken marsala’. “That’s it!” I declare, as my mouth begins to water. So I say “I would like to eat chicken marsala for lunch.” Promethium then searches through the various fridges and freezers in my house to assemble the right ingredients. It then tells me which ingredients I have, and which I might be missing, and a potentially better recipe to cook if I am missing too many of them. If I have what I need to prepare chicken marsala, Promethium assembles all of the ingredients, prepares them and then tells me in what order they need to be combined to make the dish. This is very helpful since I am not a professional chef. Once combined, Promethium cooks them to perfection and delivers the dish to my table. All I have to do now is eat it. No hassle, very little wait, and without any additional expenditure.

So if you are in the market for a BI solution that eliminates much of the cost and pain, make sure you understand what is really being offered. Many companies claim to provide flexibility, ease of use and customization, but few are serving up solutions that are as appetizing as they sound.



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