When working with customers, the workshops about BI, data warehousing or EPM are increasingly about “maturity”. There are more customers who are beyond the phase of “business case”, or “where to start”, or “how to…”. The key question is “what’s next”.
I looked into a number of maturity models out there, and some of them are better than others. I particularly like the maturity model of TDWI (The Data Warehousing Institute). Detailed, well thought through.
The point that I want to make is that most of the models assume the last phase is called ‘mature’ (maybe that is why they are called maturity models). But let’s compare this to real life. After maturity comes aging, and in the end we die. So where are the stages “… becomes old, stale and goes away”, or “… merges with XYZ”?
I don’t think business performance, or maturity models are linear of nature. That at one moment you reach the top, and then you stay there. “Ta ta! You’re in the High Performance Stage now”. Progress comes with ebbs and floods. At most moments in time, your BI will be in some kind of equilibrium, it supports what it needs to support. And all the time, there are various influences. Technology moves on, users progress and ask for more (or less), the organization changes, new best practices emerge, etc. This disrups the current balance, and then you try to create a new equilibrium. Sometimes this is an improvement, and sometimes it is a step back. Like with many things in life.
The best example I can give is how the key issue in BI was presented to me twenty years ago: “Users are spending too much time collecting the data, and not enough time analyzing it”. Today, this is still the case. Has there been no progress? I think there has been HUGE progress, and with the increased business complexity, data volumes, multiple types of users ad styles of delivery, it is fantastic that BI has been able to at least keep up.
Everything you don’t put energy in, decays. Buildings, living creatures, friendships, everything. Full stop. BI is not different. There is improvement along the way, but you’re never done.