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How do actual users in companies define BI?

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Nari Kannan: Business Intelligence is sometimes narrowly defined as in Sales and Financial Performance analyses. Sometimes it includes Business Process Performance, and Operational Intelligence. How do users in companies define BI? Does it matter?

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  • I'm often said that is used to do the printouts. And it exports in Excel too!

    Jokes apart, too often there's a lack of understanding of the full power of BI. This is not up to the users only but it's up to the IT community, who should root projects in business requirements and not in technical.

  • Does it matter how users define BI? Not really. The value in a user's definition is in the understanding of their unique business pain. If users can clearly articulate which answers they need to which specific business challenge, then it is the vendor’s responsibility to deliver the right solution. While all companies share the need to improve insights, their unique business drivers and metrics influence why there are so many different "flavors" of BI. I agree with the previous post. This puts the responsibility on the vendors to listen carefully and communicate clearly on how we will solve the customer's problem and avoid pushing a particular type of technology. In short, it's our job to understand the customer's definition...whatever it is.

  • To use as many clichés as possible, at the end of the day, if it looks, talks, and walks like a duck, then it’s a duck. The same holds true for BI. From corporate execs to business analysts, we need to decipher the complex nuances found buried deep in our voluminous datasets. Whether sales, finance, or operations, data should be understood, or it provides negative value. Thus, definition doesn’t matter – end results always matter. Strong BI companies tend to uniquely identify and exploit ‘powerful’ data and shelve unneeded data.

    De-scoping just a bit, I believe most companies understand the “need? for business intelligence. Unfortunately, some companies don’t necessarily know the “why.? Unless a company understands the rationale for digging into the data and respects the caveats which may exist in their results, a company’s mediocre and vain attempts will always be fruitless, or, even worse, be misguiding to their roadmap. How can you find Times Square when looking at a map of Cleveland?

  • The same as Augusto. While I had been using BI, it was bunch of flexible reports. Still, I always had to export those reports to Excel to add a final touch.

    There were just too many versions of truth in one place. Both IT and LOBs are equally responsible for it, I felt.

  • The way users define BI depends on the organization they are part of and it differs from one company to another. To answer it a little more profoundly, users define BI based on their 'mental models' about BI, which is largely shaped by the organization that employs them.

    To quote Wikipedia, a Mental Model is an explanation of someone's thought process about how something works in the real world. Extending that definition, a BI Mental Model of any user depends on his/her view of the relevance of BI in their organization to actual business decisions.

    Users in companies that 'compete on analytics' as described by Tom Davenport will define BI as an IT discipline that helps them solve business problems while there are countless other companies where BI is just equated to reporting and users define it as such.

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