As the IT industry matures into a discipline that is arguably more complex than any other profession, those of us who have been involved in it for many years are constantly challenged both by new technological developments and, on a personal basis, by new whizz kids who seem to know it all. Medical science is very good at telling us “oldies” how many brain cells we lose every year and even IQ tests are weighted in favour of older people because they aren’t expected to get the same readings as 18 to 25 year olds.
So why are there still people in their 50s and 60s working in IT development at an age when younger professionals might suggest that they should be vegetating in front of TV screens rather than creating applications for newer screens like mobiles & tablets?
Would you prefer a senior consultant or a newly qualified surgeon?
Well the answer is simple to those that have reached this level of maturity: it’s the value of experience that levels the playing field. Which of us would prefer a recently qualified surgeon operating on our brain versus a senior consultant with many years of experience, regardless of whether the younger person was mentally more agile than the older one. Maybe we haven’t the mental energy to try 10 new things at once – but do we need to? Experience has taught us that only one or two of them are worth investigating because the others are just variations on old ideas that haven’t worked in the past.
The question of maturity and experience also relates to software itself – and that of course includes Business Intelligence (BI) software. There is a constant flow of new BI and visualisation products hitting the market as developers realise that, out of all software, a BI implementation can yield the greatest returns to an organisation. I mean, when has implementing a new ERP really made your business significantly better off? It might have tidied up processes and helped you prepare for the future, but it takes months or years to see these benefits – whereas implementing a BI solution can yield significant results in just weeks.
Would your data fit a one-size-fits all solution?
New BI vendors have a lot in common with the recently qualified surgeon. They’ve got 10 great ideas straight from college but haven’t tried them all out on real-life subjects with complications not seen in the manual. They prepare them all “out-of-the box” on your organisation’s data – but your data is always slightly more complex and has business rules that don’t fit in. 10 new ways to look at your business they say – but in reality only 2 or three of them are of any long term use and the others have just wasted your time or divided your focus. On the other hand… a mature BI Vendor who has been around for 20 years or more has the benefit of all those years of customer experience to recognise the truly important insights and not to waste your time on eye candy.
Some new BI Vendors try to compensate for their lack of experience by buying an existing company and “giving it a facelift” but this often fails because they don’t appreciate or retain the experienced staff who have actually created the successful BI solution. The end result is patchwork mess in the background and a confusion of ideas for the customer.
Maybe it’s maturity or maybe it’s just being conservative, but as we get older we want safe, sure solutions that don’t give any hassle and have a proven track record. Life is too short to be experimenting with software and vendors that have no experience or pedigree. When you’re choosing a BI solution bear this in mind and let someone else be responsible for teaching those “newbies” what’s important. When they’ve learnt by experience and if they survive those years of induction, then perhaps they will have made the grade in the BI industry.
For more information on user evaluations of the Diver BI product and consultancy services please browse our Accolades posts.
About John Spillane
John has been Technical Director of DBI since 2004 and has been working with the product since 1994. He was IT development manager in Dairygold Foods where he designed and implemented ERP systems for the food processing sector and integrated Diver across all business units. Since joining DBI, he has designed & implemented Diver applications across a wide variety of market sectors for a large number of organisations.