We have posited in our previous posting that the coverage of IT and computerization has become fragmented, specialized and barely able to deliver on the old trade press and medi/show models. More than ever before publications have to be agile about how to foster revenue/income streams, and how to do what they have been urging developers to do forthwith – get more reuse out of their assets.
One of the ways that publications can earn more revenue is to charge for the specialized results that their survey and news gathering produce while developing their editorial lines. One can see this at all the major IT publications fro Computerworld through eWeek to Infoworld. They have been sponsoring trade shows for a long time but now they are getting into the business of pulling together leading topic conferences on such areas as SOA based Development, Security management and IT project and Portfolio Management. Some of the conference material will later appear as editorial content and reviews.
Information Week Approach
One of my favorite sections of Information Week has been Behind the Numbers – consigned to the back pages, this column constantly surprises with solid sets of survey and research information on all aspects of IT. Of late it has had a strategic focus and tends to follow some of the key conference topics that IWeek is sponsoring. Behind the Numbers key virtues is that it consistently tells not only the source of the data but also who and how large the sample size was. This sample info is crucial because it allows me as a reader to gauge how broad and relevant its results are. Yes, the primacy of the crowd constantly gets asserted – but its in the outliers and what made the hit parade that sometimes just makes for riveting assessments.
An example is the Behind the Numbers from August of 2005. BI-Busines Intelligence was under scrutiny and the following question was posed:
“What barriers stand in the way of adopting business-intelligence tools company wide”
Now this struck me as an intriguing question because for at least 30 years report writing, graphics, and user-customized and intitiated reports have been a part of BI and IT development. I realy expected to hear about islands of information and the inability to integrate local data into regional and the corporate wide views as being the major stumbling block – the silos of information problem. Next I expected the complexity of getting backroom operations to support changing conditions and requirements of current BI needs and views. Here is what actually showed up in a poll of 300 IT pros.
1)60% – cited ease of use issues with BI software
2)48% – cited integration or compatibility issues
3)45% – cited data quality problems
4)42% – cited training issues
5)41% – cited ROI issues
Okay so my number one issue appeared as 2) in the survey. But to my astonishment, data quality issues continue to linger as a pressing problem. This despite Sarbanes Oxley and at least 8-10 years of some very good data cleansing and warehousing tools available in the marketplace. Equally disconcerting was to see ease of use as a continuing and highest priority issue. Again, the technology for guding the user through review and analysis of data has improved immensely. So why the lingering Ease of use Concern ? But then the evidence immediately appears in the report. 41% cite no clear ROI. Nothing gets users turned off learning high powered analyses and optimizing tools if 2 in 5 believe there is no return. next was training cited as an issue for 42% of cases. Peter Weiss, the managing editor for Iweek on this Behind the Numbers advisory helped fill in the blanks- “businesses also struggle to provide adequate staff training. Instruction is described as too time-intensive and costly, impeding the use of BI tools company wide”.
So once again, Behind the Numbers had done just that, provided some key insights into IT. Namely, why BI, which can easily be credited with having produced some of the best ROI and postive development trends in computing (think open systems and fostering integrated access to data) still presents active mangement problems. the bottom line is that Behind the Numbers represents both good reporting and reuse of data that Information Week can easily incorporate into a broad range of services.