Business Intelligence Brief - Is there really a B in BI

Is there REALLY a “B” in BI? Or was it all False Advertising?

Business Intelligence is all the rage.  But in dark corners, people are whispering that it has not lived up to its promise.  Sure, the graphical tools are snazzy.  And the analysts who use it rave about its ability to manipulate information to find answers to questions.  But does anyone even remember what the “B” stood for?  The original idea was that a BI tool would provide intelligence for the business.  But the tools that have been developed for BI are one-way streets in which business information is converted to intelligence with little thought as to how business will consume and act upon that information.

There is a significant difference between a BI-produced Data Dashboard and a Business Dashboard.  Over the last 20 years, I have seen many nice Dashboards with colors dancing across the screen in graphs, pivot tables and infographics. But if you look beyond the surface, they are all very similar in that they are lacking some of the most vital components you would expect from a useful Dashboard.

Typical BI Dashboards are nothing more than HTML reports where you can explore a “data structure” or a “data model”.  Whereas what business wants to explore is a “Data model” within a “Business model context”. This is an aspect that Dashboard providers have not taken into consideration because the concept of “Business models” are often not fully understood.

Business models are based on business frameworks.  Businesses create their “business model” by adapting standard frameworks to fit their own operations.  Therefore, the actual model used by a business becomes unique to that organization and subject to frequent change..  What does this mean?  This means it can be difficult to successfully reflect the resultant business model in a “column-row type of database”.  The truth is that a real-life business model is more of an “art” than a science and, to complicate matters, a business model also deviates between organizational units (e.g., one region or business unit may do things slightly differently than other regions or business units).

To deliver intelligence to business, you need a “business semantic modeling layer” that goes beyond what report based dashboards can deliver.  When you merge the power of graphical analytics found in traditional BI with the context of the business model, business can contextualize, consume, and act upon the intelligence.  In other words, BI can live up to its promised potential:  Business Intelligence.

At Corporater, we brand our Dashboards as “Business Dashboards” since we add this critical dimension to traditional BI.  BI dashboards are heavily quantitative, meaning that they show numbers only; but business has a quantitative and a qualitative side. A “Quantitative Data Dashboard” fails to give you the holistic business picture.

Some qualitative aspects that provide the rest of the Business Intelligence picture include:
  • Surveys or polls
  • Assessments and evaluations
  • Check boxes to designate things as complete
  • Initiatives and tasks
  • Risk assessments
  • Classifications and re-classifications

 

Corporater focuses on both the quantitative aspect as well as the qualitative aspect of the business.