Is it time to redefine Business Intelligence (BI)? #bigdata #analytics #makebusinessgreatagain


I believe Howard Dresner coined the term BI for Business Intelligence some time ago. I’ve used this term for probably 15 years and have thrown it around to encompass everything relating to data and getting it in the hands of business users.  Then, over the past 6 or 7 years, everything became BIG Data and Analytics. Catchy huh?  What does that really mean to a person that actually has to make a decision based on where their business is headed?

I was recently reading an article on the pitfalls of bi and it really made me THINK about purpose of the term BI.   If you have read any of my posts over the past 10+ years, you know that I am all about business performance and really trying to get the whole organization focused on specific business objects that are measurable.  When you have people focused on the same Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), then you have the whole department locked in on the same goals all moving towards the end-zone.

I think the issue with calling everything BIG DATA or Analytics is that it really means so many things to so many people.  What does that result in?  Yep, you guessed it, everyone creating their own playbook and running in different directions on the field.  That is no way to win the super bowl, just ask any NFL coach.

We need to go back to KPIs and Scorecards!


Oh, I know a bunch of you just rolled your eyes, but deep down, you know that I am right.  You just spent $50,000 or maybe even $100,000 or maybe even more (sucker) on a self-serve tool from one the big vendors because the sales person sold you some magic words “that if you buy my tool, you’ll find some insights you never knew before that will make you money.”  Hahahahahah.  Dude, you just been had…  I’m sorry to tell you that. The only person that is going to make any money is that sales person on their commission.

Here’s the deal, ask ANY leader in your company which metrics are important to them and I bet they may say about 7 to 10 metrics and they are known metrics that have been around for years.  Yep, that is it.  Why?  Because that is the heartbeat of the business that is important to them and their department.  Also, the best thing about defining and labeling your KPIs is that your business logic is contained in that metric that everyone can now trust the source.  Try to do that with some random bar chart someone created in a self-serve analytic tool.

Seriously, we have to get serious and do the right thing for the business and not your career about being a so called data scientist.  I think it is time to put all these cool new terms and animated bar charts into their appropriate buckets and get back to making businesses great again.

Business intelligence concept man pressing selecting BI
credit: ThinkStock

Oh yeah, what do you think we should rename business intelligence tool?  Are businesses intelligent?  The people are, but not the business.  I believe we should call this “Business Insights“.  Because, at the end of the day, that is what we are trying to do as professionals, we’re trying to provide Business Insights to decision makers in the company so they can make the right decisions going forward.

Enjoy the day, Patrick

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