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A different take on BI trends


Ron Shevlin had a great post today – Four BS BI Trends (And One Good One) – in which he took exception to some BI trends reported in CIO Magazine (Five Key Business Intelligence Trends You Need to Know
). Like Ron I have some comments about these trends.

  • Trend No. 1: There’s so much data, but too little insight
    As Ron says, this is not really a trend. The evidence is that plenty of information is available, you just need a decision-focus to pull it all together. This is not just a problem (as Ron notes) with strategic decisions, but also with operational decisions. When trying to decide what offer to make a customer on the website most organizations have lots of information about the behavior of the customer but have it siloed as CRM data, billing data, web data etc.
  • Trend No. 2: Market Consolidation Means Fewer Choices for Business Intelligence Users
    More an observation than a trend but even so I think I would have to disagree. Consolidation just means fewer choices for all-in-one solutions. There are still many companies innovating but more of these are small so companies don’t have as many “safe bets” as they used to.
  • Trend No. 3: Business Intelligence Expands from the Board Room to the Front Lines
    Ron thinks this is backwards and that BI needs to expand back into the boardroom from the front line. I think he’s wrong too, as neither the boardroom nor the front line are using BI well today. Most BI is consumed by mid-level managers and companies need to think about how to drive insight into their operational systems using enterprise decision management techniques and technologies AND back into the boardroom to empower executives.
  • Trend No. 4: The Convergence of Structured and Unstructured Data Will Create Better Business Intelligence
    The problem with the examples in this trend is that they don’t take enough account of both the volume and complexity involved. Ron says that “Better business intelligence is created when managers use structured and unstructured data in ways that they haven’t been used before” and “We don’t know how to incorporate unstructured data into strategic decisions”. True but we don’t know how to bring it into operational decisions either as most companies cannot do this kind of analysis manually if they really want to deliver value. Analyzing the emails from customers in a BI-like way sounds great but is impractical for companies that get lots of emails and for front-line staff with a customer on hold. Turning this unstructured data into executable insight is what is required.
  • Trend No. 5: Applications Will Provide New Views of Business Intelligence Data.
    Ron thinks this is the only good trend among the five but I would say that the future is not just about visualization. There will also be new ways to operationalize the insight from data otherwise the whole idea of making operations better thanks to data analysis is not going to happen. This is where the power of EDM really comes into its own – not just new Views of data but new uses.