Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Has the Term Business Intelligence Lost Its Meaning?

Claudia Imhoff and Colin White have written good articles and white papers together. Yesterday, they published an interesting article in B-Eye-Network, entitled Advanced Analytics and Business Intelligence: Term Abuse? In the article, they commented about the terminology used nowadays to define the Business Intelligence solutions.

They started the article commenting: "The term advanced analytics is gaining ground in vendor marketing. Hardly a briefing goes by without a vendor introducing this phrase into the presentation to try to differentiate itself from other business intelligence (BI) solutions."

They also defined the terms Business analysis, analytics and advanced analytics: "Business analysis is the process of analyzing trusted data with the goal of highlighting useful information, supporting decision making, suggesting solutions to business problems, and improving business processes. A business intelligence environment helps organizations and business users move from manual to automated business analysis. Important results from business analysis include historical, current and predictive metrics, and indicators of business performance. These results are often called analytics. The term, advanced analytics, is often associated with the more sophisticated capabilities. Vendors who use this term must provide very clear explanations and examples of the types of advanced analytics they support since there are a growing number of capabilities in this area."

They listed some reasons because the term Business Intelligence has become problematic for marketing:

- It is closely associated with data warehousing. Some business users see data warehousing as an IT technology solution without clear business objectives and goals. This may be why vendors often use the term analytics rather than business intelligence in discussions with business units because analytics are not so strongly associated with technology solutions and the IT department.

- Only a small percentage of an organization’s information (about 20% by some analyst estimates) is stored in a data warehouse. Some 80% of data in an enterprise is considered an untapped resource for supporting decision making. Whereas some of this data certainly belongs in a data warehouse, it is not always practical or cost effective to store all of it in a data warehouse. This is especially true for high-volume event data and most unstructured content (many types of text documents, multimedia content, and content produced by collaborative and office computing, for example).

They mentioned another interesting article, where they used the term decision intelligence to define the BI environment interacting with other technology components to form a more complete decision support environment.

They finished the article with the suggestion: "Certainly, vendors (as well as consultants and analysts) always have, and always will, create and use new terms to differentiate and help sell their products and services. We suggest that we all become more vigilant in supplying definitions and usage cases to ensure a complete understanding of our meanings. Otherwise, as technologies mature and gain traction in the market, these terms become overused and abused."

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