HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is wildly popular for a lot of reasons: epic battles, dramatic vistas and, shall we say, intense relationships. But beyond riveting entertainment, the series offers a powerful allegory that is directly applicable to the Business Intelligence (BI) software industry: “winter is coming.”

winter_CIOIn “Game of Thrones,” seasons are years-long, just like software eras. In my 25 years of working with CIOs, I’ve seen the pinnacles of more than a few of these eras: operational effectiveness, employee productivity, human capital management, and others. When I say that “winter is coming,” I mean that the landscape of BI is fundamentally changing, in a way that pushes legacy BI technology toward obsolescence.

The new two-tier analytics model

Today’s companies require analytic capabilities that meet end-user self-service demands without sacrificing governance and trust in the data. IT leaders must create a two-tier analytics model that bridges the gap between:

  • Centralized BI teams supporting enterprise requirements
  • User-led, decentralized teams looking for greater autonomy and faster answers.

Given this mandate, legacy BI vendors simply can’t keep up. The core technologies offered by the industry’s big, established players – including Oracle, IBM, and MicroStrategy – have roots that are literally decades old. As these vendors struggle to retrofit their incredibly complex products – the vast majority of which are deployed on-premise, through byzantine licensing agreements – to today’s high-velocity business environment, the sheer scope and antiquity of their products is freezing them in their tracks.

Winter is coming

The beginnings of the “BI winter” are clear in industry analyst commentary about legacy solutions, such as Oracle’s, which have not kept up with modern requirements for business intelligence.

Analysts report that Oracle BI customers are concerned about product costs, complexity and quality, difficulty of use, development and administration, and lack of support.

Birst bridges governance and agility

When I talk with CIOs they are excited to see how Birst’s two-tier BI lets executives create alignment at a strategic level and give a high degree of autonomy to departments that still keeps them going in same direction the overall company. This is the way that business runs on today – Gartner calls it “bimodal IT.” McKinsey calls it “two-speed IT.”

In my next post I’ll dive into this topic further, and explain how Birst helps CIOs meet strategic enterprise needs for data governance and trust, with the flexibility to move quickly, departmental style. Until then, don’t forget: winter is coming.

The preceding is a blog post originally published in CIO on September 1, 2015.