Business intelligence—and its predecessor concepts…

February 23, 2009
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Business intelligence—and its predecessor concepts decision support, executive information systems, and so forth—have been circulating for several decades in business. However, I don’t think it’s ever fully worked. What we’ve done is to throw data (often in the form of difficult-to-navigate data warehouses) and software tools at business users, and said “Go at it.” That’s simply been too hard … 

I’ve argued for a while that organizations need to increase their focus on decision-making. In particular, they need to think again about the relationship between information and decision-making. I recently completed a study on this topic, with the sponsorship of IBM’s Information Management business unit, in which I looked at 26 efforts to improve decision-making in organizations. I concluded the following ten things about how business intelligence (BI) needs to evolve… 


Business intelligence—and its predecessor concepts decision support, executive information systems, and so forth—have been circulating for several decades in business. However, I don’t think it’s ever fully worked. What we’ve done is to throw data (often in the form of difficult-to-navigate data warehouses) and software tools at business users, and said “Go at it.” That’s simply been too hard … 

I’ve argued for a while that organizations need to increase their focus on decision-making. In particular, they need to think again about the relationship between information and decision-making. I recently completed a study on this topic, with the sponsorship of IBM’s Information Management business unit, in which I looked at 26 efforts to improve decision-making in organizations. I concluded the following ten things about how business intelligence (BI) needs to evolve: 
1. Decisions are the unit of work to which BI initiatives should be applied. 2. Providing access to data and tools isn’t enough if you want to ensure that decisions are actually improved. 3. If you’re going to supply data to a decision-maker, it should be only what is needed to make the decision. 4. The relationship between information and decisions is a choice organizations can make—from “loosely coupled,” which is what happens in traditional BI, to “automated,” in which the decision is made through automation (see graphic below): (via 10 Principles of the New Business Intelligence – Tom Davenport – HarvardBusiness.org)

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