To some it is an oxmoron, like in Engineering we joke about a Civil Engineer (there is no such thing as a civil Engineer – ie refined – we are all uncouth). I remember meeting with someone on the business side of an organization and as we were talking about a specific problem she was having and I said you should talk to Paul, he is the Director of Business Intelligence – she looked at me with a blank stare and said huh?
She is not alone in working to understand what Business Intelligence (BI) is and how it directly adds value to the business. In the Think Big Data Warehouse conference Claudia Imhoff, Co-Founder and President of Intelligent Solutions gave a great Keynote address titled Business Intelligence Not Intuition will Enhance Your Company’s Competitive Edge. It was described as:
Drowning in data but starved for information? You are not alone. Most executives today state that their number one problem is a lack of intelligence about where their company is going. The need for BI is greater today that ever. So what exactly is BI?
I really enjoyed the session and took some notes and will leverage these notes as a discussion on what BI is.
Business Intelligence is an environment not a technology that consists of the following characteristics:
- Easily manipulated
that is used to yield an overall understanding of:
- where we have been – historical intelligence
- where we are now – real/time or active intelligence
- where will it be in the future – predictive intelligence
I think there needs to be a major mind shift as there has been in the
business strategy to this being an approach to viewing your business.
As we have been talking about IT strategy and how it should be
approached in some other posts we talked about it being about the
support of the business and a live activity.
The calling it an environment is well suited to this sort of approach
to understanding your business. By calling it an environment we are
allowing for the thinking about the pieces that male up our environment:
- among many others.
If we approach it as an environent, then we should be able to drive
great value and change based upon what we can learn about ourselves,
maybe even do an environmental study and health check.
One of the things people will need to define for themselves (and I
would do this as guiding principles) is what this environment means to
them and their business. In most cases BI does two things:
- Monitors the Financial and Operational health of the organization
- Regulates the operation of the organization
But this needs to be interactive. To know and not do is to not know.
So you need to link the BI into actionable activities otherwise the BI
has no value.