Smarter BI

I just stumbled upon an article in Optimize magazine by Betsy Burton and Mark McDonald of Gartner entitled “Smarter Use of Business Intelligence” (May, 2006) that I found refreshing and encouraging. In it, they argue, much as I often do, that BI needs to become less technology-centric and more focused on the needs, goals, and abilities of the people and businesses that the technology is meant to serve. Here’s an excerpt:

“To capitalize on the real value and potential of BI, users should turn more traditional approaches upside down–shifting the focus from technology that serves a small segment of decision-maker to a much broader initiative that puts people and business objectives first. Leading BI initiatives are interactive, flexible processes that take into account the needs and skills of people within the company. This means viewing BI as a continuum that spans diverse users–including manager, workers, sales representatives, senior executives, partners, customers, and suppliers–where tools identify new business opportunities, integrate business processes, and build collaboration across the business.”

I appreciate this reminder, from the organization that defined the term “business intelligence” in the first place, of the essential goals of BI, and the focus on the business and people that is necessary to achieve them. Burton and McDonald believe that this evolutionary shift is already happening. They write, “There are two major forces fueling the BI evolution: a higher degree of usability in applications to integrate more fully within business processes, and increased technical knowledge on the part of the average worker.” I hope this is true. Sometimes it is hard to see when you’re down in the trenches fighting to make it happen.

Take care,


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