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BI system development hits the ground running with efficiency and flexibility using the agile methodology.

Feeling like your business intelligence efforts are a bit sluggish and out of touch with what the company needs? Maybe it's time to try agile BI, a rapid development methodology that solicits end-user input early and often and delivers BI systems fast.

While the use of the agile software development methodology is a big component of agile BI, it's by no means the only attribute, says Boris Evelson, an analyst at Forrester Research.

Forrester defines agile BI as an approach that combines processes, methodologies, tools and technologies, while incorporating organizational structure, in order to help strategic, tactical and operational decision-makers be more flexible and more responsive to ever-changing business and regulatory requirements.

Rapid delivery

Organizations using agile BI are tapping into that power. One example is Kiva, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that arranges person-to-person loans via the Internet to help alleviate poverty. In 2010, Kiva implemented a new data warehousing and BI application based on Pentaho's Agile BI technology to handle its rapidly growing stockpile of data and replace an increasingly inefficient ad hoc analysis process that was done via spreadsheets.

Kiva has grown rapidly since its founding in 2005, and it has helped entrepreneurs around the world secure more than $200 million in microloans from individual lenders. As of April 2011, the organization had united more than 570,000 lenders, 131 microfinance institutions and some 450 volunteers around the globe.

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