Yes, the BI Industry is Like a Turducken

In Morris’s blog post today, he draws an analogy between the BI industry and a turducken.  He’s on the right track, (funnier and more irreverent than I am, too) but I think his comparison would work a lot better with a different approach.

A turducken is a deboned turkey that’s stuffed with a deboned duck that’s stuffed with a deboned chicken. The cavity of the chicken and the spaces between the birds are usually filled with sausage, breadcrumbs, or stuffing.  [For the curious or adventurous, the venerable New York Times provided the history of the dish and a recipe in a column from November, 2002.]

This image conveys the main idea:

To compare this to the Business Intelligence sector of the software industry (as Morris does so colorfully), we need to understand some core facts about that business:

  • The primary objective of all BI projects is to provide access to data. [Wikipedia defines BI as “computer-based techniques used in spotting, digging-out, and analyzing business data.”
  • BI platforms (by themselves) don’t solve BI problems, because they don’t have any “content” to help users find their data. [See my blog post from July describing this.]
  • Most of the cost of BI projects (as much as 60%) pays for consulting services to get things working. [Morris wrote about this on his blog in June]

So, it seems clear to me that the center of the picture – the chicken in our turducken – is the business data itself.

Wrapped around the data – representing the duck in our turducken — is the BI platform. The BI end user doesn’t generally see it and, by itself, it doesn’t do anything.  It’s the bridge between the core and the outside.

The stuffing (between the chicken and the duck and between the duck and the turkey) represents the “BI content” – the data models and the reports, dashboards, and queries.

Engulfing the entire thing (and weighing the most, just like the turkey in our turducken) is the huge array of consulting services that are required to provide a workable solution for the business.  Without the turkey to wrap everything, we’d have a bunch of stuffing (not to mention duck and chicken pieces) spread all over the place.

So, here’s the image, updated to match our BI analogy – notice how Consulting Services show up everywhere.

Morris’s summation is absolutely correct:

Business Intelligence is the Turducken of the software industry. It’s one thing stuffed into another and then once again stuffed into something much bigger surrounded by a lot of hard work and complexity. It’s big, expensive and hard to swallow, and if you do it wrong, you get badly burned.

Try not to get burned.

Click here to watch the Turducken debate.

For now…I’ll leave you with this thought (about the real turducken – not about the BI metaphor):

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One Response to Yes, the BI Industry is Like a Turducken

  1. Morris says:

    i’m afraid i disagree with Daryl. i don’t see how the chicken could ever be the data – it’s far too small. data is big, bold, complex and impossible to see. a chicken is simply a chicken – small, vulnerable, and easy to kill and eat. i think Daryl is really off on this one. i hope it doesn’t impact his career.

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