July 21, 2006

Integrating BI with planning

One of my big themes these days is the integration of various kinds of analytics with each other, and with other kinds of IT. The following got a good reaction when I posted it in an SAP forum, in response to a question about integrating BI and planning.

… Perhaps my difficulty is that there are several very different uses of planning … For example:

1. For almost any kind of planning exercise, it is useful to be able to import actual ratios, growth rates, etc. as seamlessly as possible.

2. For any kind of “control” or “compare against budget” operational process, it can be helpful to automatically compare actual (or requested) figures against plans. In some cases, instantly reworking the plan is good.

3. When managing employees by objective, full integration with planning would be very nice. SAP had some custom projects along these lines, but when I followed up recently trying to find out if they’d been productized, I didn’t get a favorable response.

4. Forecasting the expected results of a particular strategy, whether via predictive analytics or specialized production planning, can be usefully integrated with general planning and budgeting.

And each of those cases has lots of distinct subcases. And it’s probably not even complete as a top-level list.

Integration of BI and planning is a hot sales/marketing topic for BI companies. But technically it’s just barely begun to, in limited ways, be made to work.


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