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Recently, I went to a Business Objects conference, featuring
ex-Forrester analyst Keith Gile, who joined the BI vendor in
October as Senior Director, Strategic Marketing. Keith advised the
audience to participate in some “intelligent cost
cutting… save 30% to 70% of your BI costs by
standardisation”. Not many Business Objects customers I
talked to were rushing out to buy more Business Objects licences to
save money. But hey, it’s Xmas, so you never know 😉
Keith follows in the illustrious footsteps of ex-Gartner
analysts Frank Buytendijk and Howard Dresner who now have similar
positions for Hyperion. The implication is that BI vendors are
struggling with the serious question of ‘where to now?’ and
need some heavyweight brainpower in support. Not a bad plan.
Certainly times are tough and vendors could do with more strategic
direction. Sales executives and senior executives are jumping ship
(the latest being Steve Rogers, the Business Objects VP who joined
SAP UK) and deals are hard fought-for and hard-won. The BI gravy
train will be poured on a less inviting turkey this year.
The saviour appears to be Performance Management. Business
Objects calls this ‘alignment’ and refers to the
“melding of BI and financial applications”. Earlier in
the week, Graham Walter, VP for Cognos, talked of “BI within
the context of PM” and that “people do what you inspect
rather than what you expect” at the
Bloor Knowledge Management conference. So is performance
management really a better way of controlling your staff through
implementation of a new piece of software?
Well, not according to an article in Business Research in
Information and Technology that states: “integration (of
performance management into business planning) is achieved by first
establishing the common organizational change goals that will drive
business plans and then linking the organizational change goals to
the roles, competencies and performance improvement measures needed
to achieve them… A performance management system will only
be effective in supporting organizational change if it is
objective, valued by both employees and managers, judged to be fair
and realistic and proven to make a positive contribution to
personal and organizational development”.
We all know this in our hearts. Performance Management is not
about software. It is about organisational culture. And culture is
all about beliefs and values, knowledge, attitudes of mind,
customs, rituals, and artefacts. In the organisational context it
includes leadership styles, company heroes, founders, and folklore.
It considers such elements as the treatment of people, ethics and
integrity, customer focus, innovation, and unwritten ways of
working and behaving. Complex stuff. There is no such thing as a
piece of software that fits this requirement like a glove.
Software is now moving beyond the boundaries of feature,
function, and form. It is becoming a living breathing organic
entity that melds to user needs and takes into consideration a
complex set of human and organisation characteristics. It is up to
the vendors to architect unique finely-tuned and people-sensitive
performance management solutions that will be a source of
sustainable competitive advantage for their customers. Because for
sure, the software alone will not deliver these benefits.