It had to happen, and it’s a good thing. There’s a solution for the latest conflict that has pitted CIOs against departments: the battle over business intelligence (BI). The answer is called “Networked BI” and it empowers users to work freely with data while delivering trust, governance, and agility at scale.

networkedBI_southard“Networked BI” is built on virtualization technology that creates a network of interwoven virtual BI instances with a shared, common analytical fabric. Think of it as the next logical step in the virtualization of enterprise resources; first came virtual machines and thenvirtual storage, both of which ushered in game-changing new efficiencies. So does cloud BI technology – it frees centralized IT from the burden of physically replicating data and metadata infrastructures to enable analytics for decentralized groups.

Breaking down data silos

“Networked BI” is the logical answer because departments are already using their own BI environments. They’re almost always based on desktop BI products that offer end-user ease, but don’t offer the data consistency, user scale, and data reach necessary for enterprise-wide analytics.

Full disclosure: Birst announced our “Networked BI” capabilities on Sept. 1, balancing the accuracy of enterprise-class data governance with department agility. “Networked BI” enables organizations to expand the use of BI across multiple regions, departments, and customers in a more agile way, empowering these decentralized groups to augment the global analytical fabric with their own local data.

By bringing analytics to the virtual world with “Networked BI,” Birst eliminates data silos once and for all, and dramatically accelerates the delivery of BI across the enterprise.

Data consistency matters

We’re not alone in seeing the need to virtualize enterprise-class data analytics. Gartner, Inc., a leading IT research and advisory firm, estimates that, “Through 2016, less than 10 percent of self-service BI initiatives will be governed sufficiently to prevent inconsistencies that adversely affect business.”

Furthermore, per Gartner, “By 2017, most business user and analysts in organizations will have access to self-service tools to prepare data for analysis.” (See Jan. 27, 2015, Gartner news release, “Gartner Says Power Shift in Business Intelligence and Analytics Will Fuel Disruptions.”)

In other words, CIOs cannot focus on either providing centralized BI or self-service BI. They must do both.

Eclipsing legacy and desktop BI

Birst’s “Networked BI” fills a gaping hole in the data analytics landscape. Legacy centralized BI platforms and vendors are dying. Case in point: a lot of industry coverage of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Advanced Analytics Platforms 2015 includes comments such as this:

“Another surprise in this year’s report is the complete absence of Oracle, which was in last year’s Niche Players quadrant. Gartner said Oracle was dropped from this year’s report because it “offers solutions as a tightly integrated component of its database, BI, and big data offerings, not as a stand-alone offering.” …We suspect Oracle didn’t want to be listed in any Quadrant as an also-ran,..”

Birst, in contrast, was recently recognized by Gartner as the leading vendor for Centralized BI Provisioning and OEM/Embedded BI use cases, a clear reflection of where enterprise needs are headed. You can download a summary of the Gartner Critical Capabilities for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms Report here.

At the other end of the spectrum, much of the market hype is now around desktop discovery. But discovery provides only part of the answer; desktop BI offers departmental agility and ease of use, but with data sets that are often out of synch with the enterprise and thus inaccurate.

“Networked BI” provides the complete answer. This is one reason why Tableau is partnering with Birst – further proof that CIOs need both agility and data governance, now, putting an end to CIOs’ data battles.

The preceding is a blog post originally published in CIO on September 15, 2015.