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What Is the Future of Business Intelligence? 123

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the keeping-track-of-the-cash-flow dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "Mitch Betts asked this question to many technology leaders in the field of business intelligence. Here is one selected prediction. 'In five years, 100 million people will be using an information-visualization tool on a near-daily basis. And products that have visualization as one of their top three features will earn $1 billion per year,' says Ramana Rao, founder and chief technology officer, Inxight Software Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif. Check this column for more forecasts and an update on the adoption of so-called 'executive dashboards.' You also can read the original Computerworld article for even more information."
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What Is the Future of Business Intelligence?

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  • The future? (Score:5, Funny)

    by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:31PM (#5764602)
    In the future, it will still be mythical...
    • Re:The future? (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by aardvarkjoe (156801)
      Wow. The first time I've ever had a first post, and it gets moderated up. Excuse me, I've got to go buy some lottery tickets...
      • In the future, businesses will learn that slashdot is a good advertising medium, by submitting pseudo-stories to boost their sales. Oh wait, the future is now!!
    • by Dukeofshadows (607689) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:46PM (#5764665) Journal
      I figure that in the near future most businesses will become more integrated with the Internet. The potential for customers to order goods without ever leaving their home is a tremndous potential market that can only grow as more people (especially Americans) get online. Given the laws of the United States concerning "security" passed in the last few years, I disagree with the author's comment that data mining will become a thing of the past. Quite the opposite, I think that with more information becoming readily available on the Internet that data mining will be used even more to attempt to forecast customer's desires before they even start actively shopping. With increased computing capacity and faster Internet access, it should only make data mining that much easier.

      Certainly data mining and "buisness intelligence" can save corporations advertising dollars, but what about the people who buck the trends? Advertisers will tap into the internet thanks to small businesses who could readily advertise for much less money to the whole world, if need be. Local mini-webs for individual cities like Yahoo sets up would be perfect places for such advertising. Sadly, I also predict that AOL and Microsoft will try to merge at some point soon to facilitate their own data mining practices and to try to control most of these local webs. Their offers of integrated services from web access to web navigation to easy-to-understand web tools are already one of their biggest selling points. I say try to merge because despite current politics and recent events there are still legal limits to corporate mergers.

      Regardless, I think companies will try to start integrating more of the Internet into their business. Small businesses will start using data mining as the technologies behind it become more easily exploited. And larger computer companies will probably start trying to consolidate in order to offer their own browsers, OSes (Linux derivatives for the masses seems likely to compete with Billy), and internet connection services all in one package.
      • I figure that in the near future most businesses will become more integrated with the Internet. The potential for customers to order goods without ever leaving their home is a tremndous potential market that can only grow as more people (especially Americans) get online

        And thanks to McDonalds most Americans will be too obese to leave their homes to go shopping, necessitating home delivery which will lead to a second dot-com boom.

        If McDonalds starts home delivery, then McDonalds can be sued for "Genocide b

      • I have to say, as a prediction, this is not that much of a stretch. Everybody's been saying "everything integrated with the Internet" since 1995 or so. I completely agree; however, I don't think this is what these particular articles are trying to say. I don't think they were talking about data mining per se, where someone constructs huge database queries to try to predict future consumer buying habits. They seem to be refering to managers' ability to look at specific mappings of the state of their comp
      • Maybe some people like to live out their lives in front of the little screen, but people need to get out once in a while!

        Plus, there are *many* things that are better purchased in person, so you don't waste time and money with reordering, reshipping etc. Clothing and fresh groceries, to name two of the most common.

        The expectation that the consuming public will eventually order everything online is a bit out of sync with the fact that much of the public can't afford to do it! And besides, that hype-othes
    • by Peterus7 (607982)
      In the future, these visualizations will work with windows media player and go with the music, holding little relevancy to anything, and yet people will love it. (sounds almost like a mac) Then people will start using it for business...
  • Sounds like the old saw about "Military Intelligence" to me...a contradiction in terms.
    • Military intelligence has everything to with gatherering information and passing it on to those who are supposed to figure out how to use it. After all, we can't be stuck with that sort of intelligence the civilians use, can we =) ?

      • Military intelligence has everything to with gatherering information and passing it on to those who are supposed to figure out how to use it.

        Gathering information is always the easiest part, processing and interpreting is what causes the most trouble - and that is the mysterious thing right before "3. profit" (sorry, couldn't resist using it). And visualising is not interpreting.

        Military intelligence can be a lethal weapon, if used correctly. I remember what a friend of mine, a history student told me ab

        • Very well put - and 101% correct. There has been too much effort put into the gathering of information in the recent history, and far to little effort put into interprenting what the gathered information signify.

          While I havn't heard the story about the egypt airbases before - and thus can't validate it - it highlights another problem; namely how to prevent your enemy (both military and business) to find outs what's real and whats not. By making every second plane a fake, the egyptians made it easy to pred

          • There has been too much effort put into the gathering of information in the recent history, and far to little effort put into interprenting what the gathered information signify.

            That's a good point that usually doesn't come up when people talk about data. My current job involves building some tools to analyze data that has been sitting around unused for a few years now - the customer spent a lot of money collecting all this data for a wide variety of machinery, and yet has neglected to do anything real

    • I don't think this is really news, they are just getting more advanced like everything else is. It still is basiclly a numbers game though.
    • Well, you have to see it the way Mr Sol Klinger sees it :
      "Business is war! Like in any war, survival depends on being able to act quickly in a constantly changing environment. Business intelligence will eventually operate as a business command-and control-center (BCCC). -- Sol Klinger, director, Sterling Management Solutions Inc., Princeton, N.J.
      I guess he's killing all his competition right now!!
    • I think it's likely that most /.ers had that exact reaction on reading the headling.
    • I worked as a business plan writer and competitive intelligence-type guy. It is amazing how many higher ups ask for idiot things like a pie chart for something that only has one category. Or, having asked you to research a complex subject for six months, ask you to summarize the summary of the executive summary.

      What happens next is that they realize you know the material better than they, so they get rid of you.

      This leaves them free to mis-manage without looking over their shoulders.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:36PM (#5764619)
    At Southwest Airlines, they call them cockpits, and they're specialized, so that the guy in charge of putting peanuts on airplanes gets a different view than the guy who's in charge of purchasing jet fuel.

    Dang. I thought my job sucked.
    • the guy in charge of putting peanuts on airplanes gets a different view than the guy who's in charge of purchasing jet fuel.

      Dang. I thought my job sucked.


      It's not that different from being a zoo keeper except that the monkeys are wearing a business suit.
  • In five years, 100 million people will be using an information-visualization tool on a near-daily basis

    How many people use graphs, pie charts, etc. daily? Look at the newspaper and see how many are in the financial section. How many people have the default stock ticker in their AIM window?

    Yeah, I thought so......these aren't the droids you are looking for, move along...
    • by catch23 (97972) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:50PM (#5764870)
      I really don't think the usual slashdotter uses a scrolling stock ticker window, but I don't think the article was aimed at the usual slashdotter audience in fact. I'm actually a developer in my company's decision support systems where we develop stastistical models to represent current and future customer predictions using stuff like k-means, sammons mapping, etc. Stuff like sammons mapping maps a n-dimensional data set into a 2 dimenional visualization and it really does help marketers predict how the trend is moving.

      I develop workflow systems with built-in dashboard display metrics so that data could be displayed in "real time" to the PHBs who make all the real decisions in the business. Yeah everything is buzzword compliant here, but the story about dashboards is real. As a developer working in both the PHB decision-making world and the low-level IT development, I can attest to it.
      • Many people who have heard the phrases "Business Intelligence" and "Executive Dashboard" do not understand what they mean in practice, nor how they are useful.

        As a data mining consultant in the Insurance industry who has participated in Sales meetings with Business Intelligence vendors such as Insight, I have come to understand some of the limitations of these products.

        First, an executive dashboard is a pivot table dressed up with web based features. It is a flexible interface that sits upon "data c
  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:38PM (#5764624) Journal

    In five years, 100 million people will be using an information-visualization tool on a near-daily basis.

    Heck, that's true now. They're called graphs.

    But it does bolster my prediction that in five years three nines or better of the pundents attempting to capitalize on our paradigms will be using lingustic chicanery to obsfucate their metheodology.

    -- MarkusQ

  • Oxymoron. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by I'm a racist. (631537) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:39PM (#5764633) Homepage Journal
    Business intelligence is an oxymoron.

    What they really need in business is to find that all-elusive step, y'know they one right before "4) Profit!"

    Anyway, regarding visualization software (let's not get into the buzzword aspects of this concept), do you really think CEOs will use it? Half of them don't even use email yet (I hear one or two are known for having their secretaries print out their emails for them). They're notoriously technologically illiterate. I assume they'll remain that way until the next generation or two succeed them (ie. people that have grown up being computer literate).
    • <heavy sarcasm> With amazing reviews like this one, how could I resist buying this product. </heavy sarcasm>

      Product: ETHNIC CLEANSING

      From: Billy Joe McVeigh

      Date: Monday 24 February, 2003

      Review:

      Woo-hoo!

      The shere quality of this game proves that we are up to the task ahead of us boys! If we got the brains to make these fancy computer games then we are just a step away from the revolution! I didn't think we had no educated boys with us, but damn was I wrong! And if we don't get em with ou

    • Just to point out the stupidity of English class after elementary school:

      I'm currently taking advanced sophomore English. We spent 5 damn weeks learning that an oxymoron is a contradiction combined withing two words that when combined contain truth. 5 damn weeks! Now if you head on over to the dictionary [reference.com] you see no mention of any hidden truth.

      Granted, I'm biased against English because of its lack of definitive structure, and that it has no universal truth. A grammar rule exists because it is in a
      • I'm sorry you've gotten so little out of your classses. The reason to learn to speak, read and write your native language correctly is so that you can function in the world around you, hopefully with the respect of those you come in contact with. The old wheeze about how "language is always changing, so whatever I want to say is right if enough people say it" is the lazy man's way out.

        Grammar rules exist to give a coherent and consistent framework to a language. They are in the textbook because thay hav
        • /*(For the record, I think I misspelled "bull crap" in my grandparent post as well.)

          1. My teacher didn't tell us that there "could be" truth behind an oxymoron; she definitively said that they all contain truth. We are required give the truth when writing about a particular oxmoron, and we would lose points for identifying "business ethics" as an oxymoron because it is theoretical today. It might be accepted as an example of verbal irony. It's hard to learn anything when you have to distrust all that
          • I'm sorry your teachers are so awful. It's depressing to be reminded of how easily a mediocre instructor can destroy someone's interest in learning by pounding stupid details into their head. It's good to see that she's taking the time to cover subtle distinctions like 'oxymoron' vs. 'verbal irony', but they shouldn't be more than a tangent to the main point. I suppose she's trying to be engaged, but more than a day of this is a waste of class time.

            Unless the textbook publishers are hopelessly incompete
  • by n3rd (111397) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:39PM (#5764634)
    Compitent, in touch, gutsy middle management.

    Many haven't worked with what they manage (UNIX, Windows, networking, accounting, QA, etc). Because of this they don't understand the day to day working of the people and products they manage.

    They also need to be in touch. From my experience when the boss calls a meeting and asks us to tell him or her what we need to change nobody speaks up. We need management we feel we can talk to without fear of retribution. Also, they need to keep their ears open for the watercooler gossip they will never hear directly. It helps judge morale, allows them to quell or substantiate rumors and find out what the employees really think.

    The last, and largest one, is gutsy. This means when the workers tell a manager something that he or she can't take care of directly they should have the guts to take it to their manager to help. I've seen too many managers who kiss ass and are afraid to put a small tarnish on their reputation to go to bat for their employees.

    The problems we face now aren't with the technology, but with the people.

    • They are only problems in the shortsighted world where you want to get work done, and make more money for the company.

      In the grand scheme of things, wastrel employees (and managers) are good things, because they suck up time and bring us closer to full employment.

      Think about it, if we had perfectly efficient people at every step, you'd need a lot less people, right?
  • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:41PM (#5764643)
    Hmmm, did they arrive at this figure based upon the pr0n industry?
  • Nonsense unbound (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SunPin (596554) <slashspam@cyberist a . com> on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:41PM (#5764645) Homepage
    It sounds like the author had a list of key/buzz words and tried to squeeze a payday out of it... it's an old term paper trick as well. How did this dreck find its place into a publication?
    • Gotta love when techies insist that terms are nonsense because they don't recognize them:
      -Visualization
      -Business Intelligence
      -Executive Dashboards
      -Balance Scorecard
      These terms have been around for at least five years - and refer to how highly-enriched analytical information is delivered from data warehouses and other analytical applications. Nothing in the article was revolutionary.

      Just because you don't hear these terms when knocking out Apache/PHP/Mysql websites doesn't mean they aren't
  • ..is bunk.

    To qoute the article; Within five years, terms such as business intelligence ... will have all but disappeared. Which may be a good thing, as all to many businesses these days seems to have their inteligence challenged by thinking up a business plan of the kind that ends in "3. PROFIT!!", and all to often has a bulletpoint just above there they'll get back to...

    • "ends in "3." ... "has a bulletpoint above".

      So not only can't they think up good business plans, but they commit the cardinal formatting sin of mixing numbered lists and bullet points. When will those in business actually READ Word for Dummies rather than just have it on the shelf to look cool.

  • "What Is the Future of Business Intelligence?"

    PHB's will multiply drastically, afterall management is more motivational to employees than paying them more. Cubicles will be reduced in size by 50% so they can be more efficient and fit more people per square meter. Computers will be ridiculously faster, so ambitious deadlines will be even more ambitious, just in time to meet that ever so important tradeshow deadline. And since technology will be a lot cheaper in the future, budgets will be halved over an
  • by poofmeisterp (650750) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:44PM (#5764656) Journal
    It doesn't work. Surprised, huh? ;)

    The "dashboards" provided green/yellow/red status with click-through to actual data points.
    The execs spent so much time obsessing over the quality of data in the dashboards and fixing problems when they arose that they never got any actual use out of them.
    It just gives execs one more thing to complain about and blame on other people to get unreasonable performance gains (that in reality areperformance losses in the form of lowered morale and sabotage.)
    • Good points, but to add:

      Whenever you have a jobplace that is especially "metric based" - ie a "dashboard" with too much information in it, you get into a circumstance where the employee(s) work the metric, instead of their job.

      In tech support, many places rate you on how many calls an hour you take. Great. But then you have operators "accidentally" hanging up on people every now and then, or rushing them off the phone to improve their metric so they don't get in hot-water.

      This is not a new thing, its been going on as long as employees get judged on criteria that isn't sufficently advanced.
      • Whenever you have a jobplace that is especially "metric based" - ie a "dashboard" with too much information in it, you get into a circumstance where the employee(s) work the metric, instead of their job.

        In tech support, many places rate you on how many calls an hour you take. Great. But then you have operators "accidentally" hanging up on people every now and then

        This system wasn't intended for metrics, it was intended to provide an alternate means for a Department Operations Superviser to report a pro

    • That's like complaining that car owners waste too much time making sure that the sensors are working right on their cars so that their dashboard gauges work right.

      Yeah, it's *completely* ok that that time is spent to ensure that execs have good information on what's going on in the business.

      Of course, if they are measuring the wrong thing, or don't understand that one metric can't fully represent how a process is working - then it's more of a matter of being info-literate than it is about having a useless
  • Reality check (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:47PM (#5764667)
    I don't mean to be insulting, but many managers are twits, and no matter what kind of wonderful software they have access to they still have to use their own brains to interpret, understand, and apply the data presented.

    I take university courses in management, and am repeatedly awestruck by the sheer stupidity of some of my peers. Many of them graduate and go on to become rather useless business people.

    Always remember, Incompetent People Rarely Know They Are [fuse.net] ;)
    • Re:Reality check (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iabervon (1971)
      The point of this software is to let people who aren't twits and know what's actually important information figure out what charts to show to the managers, who will then make the right decision and have something to justify what they did. The point is to make the twits (who are largely chosen for their ability to get people to do what they say) less significant in figuring out what to do, without obviously insulting them.

      The real trick is to get someone who really knows what's important to figure out what
    • I don't mean to be insulting, but many managers are twits, and no matter what kind of wonderful software they have access to they still have to use their own brains to interpret, understand, and apply the data presented.

      I take university courses in management, and am repeatedly awestruck by the sheer stupidity of some of my peers. Many of them graduate and go on to become rather useless business people.

      Always remember, [fuse.net]
      Incompetent People Rarely Know They Are ;)


      Well, according to the link you gave at th
  • by Fefe (6964) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:49PM (#5764676) Homepage
    The CEU or press guy of a company that makes X tells us that in future, there will be a H U G E market for X, and X will be ubiquitous.

    My my, we would be utter fools not to invest all our spare money in his dot-bomb, wouldn't we?

    Sheesh.
    • I like this part of his quote: "And products that have visualization as one of their top three features will earn $1 billion per year." Does that mean if I add a graphing feature to some application, call it "data visualization" and bill it as one of its top three features, I'll get my cut of that $1B? What a lame-ass generalized forecast; looks to me like he just submitted some gibberish in hopes he'd get his company's name mentioned somewhere.

      I still haven't been able to figure out what a "CEU" is, tho

  • Today, consumers may be amused at marketers' clumsy attempts to personalize service, like being offered a new Lexus while shopping for a used Pinto. But consumers won't laugh at such amateur antics in two years or so. And neither will chief financial officers, who will refuse to pay for collecting and analyzing data that gets used unintelligently.

    I'll show all those idiots who laughed at me! I'm make them all pay! They called me mad. They said fully automated application of our entire personal user i
  • Won't Work. (Score:2, Interesting)

    Technology has moved on leaps and bounds in the last century, and our brains are not really that capable of keeping up.

    The vast majority of people that are managers will not have the mental capacity to process this information in the time frame with which an "executive dashboard" promises to deliver it.

    And i'm not saying that in a cruel way - i'm not getting at managers or anyone, i'm saying that _we_ human beings, as a race - the vast majority of us cannot process information that quickly.

    These tools ar
    • I think you have a point, although some of the small number of geniuses available can probably design some visualization methods/tools/whatever that will allow the rest of us to make a little more sense of vast amounts of data without having to understand it in depth. After all, many business managers seem to get along just fine today without having the faintest clue about what's really going on in their business. Maybe the future of business technology is designing tools that will let managers think they

      • ...some of the small number of geniuses available can probably design some visualization methods/tools/whatever that will allow the rest of us to make a little more sense of vast amounts of data without having to understand it in depth.

        I already mentioned John Engelbart's [slashdot.org] idea of knowledge containers in another thread, but this one is at a bit different angle. In the transcript (linked to the article), he talks about aircraft industry, where no single person actually knows, how to build, let's say, a 747.

        • I like the idea of developing systems that will allow better collaboration on complex projects - it may be that such systems are our only real option going forward, since 'real' AI is always 10-20 years in the future, and I doubt we'll be able to 'upgrade' ourselves in any significant way for a long time. And I really like the 'extinction of hierarchic organizations' concept - kind of like this idea [bbc.co.uk] taken one step farther to include upper management as well as middle management.

          I really only threw in the

  • PR != news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sohp (22984) <<moc.oi> <ta> <notwens>> on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:03PM (#5764715) Homepage
    Well then. Here we have a senior officer [ramanarao.com] and founder of a dot-com that makes software to graphically analyze databases [inxight.com] telling us how in the future information visualization will be the next hot thing. When google news does this, there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the net. Slashdot, Press Releases for Nerds?
    • Luckily, the average slashdot reader is pretty smart. I'm sure this 'news' registered pretty high on most peoples' B.S. meters.
    • I love companies like Inxight, because they manage to convince my competitors to waste millions of dollars buying crap software that isn't going to help them one iota.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:04PM (#5764719)
    I undertand this, and I think I know what they are talking about when they mention the estimates. Business Intelligence is a large and all-encompassing field, I've been working as a consultant in this particular industry for three and a half years. Business spending on BI systems incorporates the entire lifecycle of such implementations, not just simple pretty graphs at the end. It includes areas such as Business Analysys which consists of requirement gathering, Data modelling for designing optimal storage for large volumes of historical data, ETL and Data Warehousing, then once you have a solid foundation for your decision support system (DSS) you can proceed onto the reporting and analytics and presentation.

    Do I believe it is a large industry with a lot of spending, yes I do. Especially in these times where businesses are attempting to optimize their processes and reduce spending. Decision support systems through Business Intelligence are a big aide to those in charge.

    Regards,

    Tom Wolniewicz; BMath, CS, OCP
    tom@fieldofwebs.com
  • Everyone will be using that my company is writing today - it will be a billion dollar market. Please give me some money now so you can be in at the ground floor.
  • I think the future of Business Intelligence is realizing that in traditional reporting, people generate these big ass long reports.

    But you can simplify this, by allowing them to specify first what they want to interrogate, and then zoom in as necessary.

    The idea is, their curiosity can help guide them, to what it is they need to look at. Using this they can drill down easily into the information and prevent information overload

    I have developed a demo of this with a Sales Reporting product called Sal
    • by burnetd (90848)
      It's called OLAP or multidimensional analysis and its been here for a long time, thing is hardly anyone uses it. Various figure suggest 90% of Business analysists have never used OLAP tools to any degree.

      As someone who spends to much time using Cognos' stuff and BusinessObjects, the one thing I can tell these things lack is decent charting. Excel has them both beat here and in the end its charts the bosses look at not the tables.
      • I think that OLAP and multi-dimensional analysis is way too complicated for alot of people. What I realized is that there are alot of very powerful tools out there, $50k+ like hyperion, Business Objects and others.

        The problem with them is that they are very expensive, especially for alot of small businesses, and very difficult to setup and get up and running.

        What I am trying to do is do simplify the process, so all the fancy analysis is bundled into the tool, and all they have to do is do a datamappin
  • by hpavc (129350) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:09PM (#5764743)
    will be more industrial/commercial espionage. and in this america is so sadly behind.
  • "Products that have visualization as one of their top three features will earn $1 billion per year."

    There's nothing I love quite so much as business analysts telling us "for sure" what's going to be hot in three to five years. Either it's something so obvious no one can miss it (like "the Internet will be big!"), or else they're horribly wrong.

    Anyone remember how "push" technology was going to be the Next Big Thing? How the real money on the Internet was pushing sports scores and stock tickers out to people so they could avaoid all that tiresome clicking? Remember the Wired cover story on Push? Well, I get the same feeling about "executive dashboards." Show me a man who has graph on his desktop showing up to the minute price trends on hog belly futures, and I'll show you a man ready to replicate the same mistakes that a million or so day traders made during the Internet bubble: having access to instant information doesn't mean you understand the information you're seeing.

    The businesses which can benefit the most from real-time information have already implamented it, and not as "executive dashboards." Think of WallMart. Or the U.S. Army. But they're designed to flow the information as hard data to people who actually use the information, rather than as pretty graphs to executives. You want to empower people at all levels of your organization, not micromanage them.

    Is visualization useful? Sure, that's why we have things like Visio, PowerPoint, and Keynote. But never mistake up-to-the-minute readouts of information for a true understanding of that underlying data.
    • Already done, Bloomberg Terminals (Bloomberg Professional Services) [bloomberg.com] Provide realtime information on all stocks to people that need it. Normal investors and 401k-responsible-alternative-seeers only care about 50% increase over the long term, not the "Ooooohhhh the DOW JONES has fallen by 0.1%, what a total disaster, everybody needs to know this information!!!"

      Move along now....

    • The businesses which can benefit the most from real-time information have already implamented it, and not as "executive dashboards." Think of WalMart. Or the U.S. Army. But they're designed to flow the information as hard data to

      people who actually use the information, rather than as pretty graphs to executives. You want to empower people at all levels of your organization, not micromanage them.

      I just liked this so much that I wanted to repeat it. Although it hardly need elaboration, I'll try anyway:

  • by Greg@RageNet (39860) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:17PM (#5764776) Homepage
    Seems like most of the predictions go something like this....

    "Hot new technology 'A' will be widely adopted and a multi-billion dollar industry in the next 3-5 years." -- Bob Anonomous, CEO vaporwhere corp, a hot new technology 'A' startup.

    -- Greg
  • Packet sniffing.
  • by DoomDoom (452574) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:23PM (#5764789)
    I used to work for Computer Associates and on their flagship product Unicenter TNG. The way we managed to sell to the excutives was to show them the TNG visualization feature which was almost like a computer game - where you could fly in to your regional data center , view a maze of your servers , fly into a server and pick up an application to fix . Lots of very cool toys to do somthing you could do faster and more easily with a simpler GUI. The CEO/CIO/CFO loved the demo and signed off on the purchase but the system administrators never ever used that interface -- they stuck to command line or windows interfaces. The System admins didn't object as the software did provide a useful and important solution for them.

    Visualization can not be a goal in itself .The software has to go and do something useful to win favor with middle tier managers and administrators , who will be the ones actually using it.
  • by MarkWatson (189759) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:25PM (#5764797) Homepage
    Inxight has good visualization and natural language processing tools, for sure (though pricey).

    Not to make too big of a shameless plug, but my www.knowledgebooks.com stuff tries to be sort-of competitive with Inxight (although I have just been working on this stuff about 1/3 time for a few years - I will acknowledge that they have a head start :-).

    I really believe that most people will routinely use what I would call information appliances - systems that basically remember our entire digital lives and provide ways to quickly find information based on topic, time of creation/modification, linked from other similar data or experiences, etc.

    One huge problem that I have as a developer (as I have recently talked about on my blog) is that if you are not Microsoft and can not peek inside proprietary data and file formats, then you have a difficult time writing software that runs in the background and has access to everything that you are doing on your computer. Storage, information retrieval, backups, etc. are all solveable problems, but proprietary data formats used by > 90% of the desktop market are a major problem.

    One possible idea would be integration with OpenOffice and live with a small market share.

    -Mark

  • Business intelligence, at least in my view, has always been about finding a way to take what employees know and marginalizing the employee.

    Think about it. The reason a lot of folks have jobs is because they have a specific skills and knowledge. If you allow someone to siphon off that knowledge, it marginalizes the employee.

  • Business Intelligence Segmentation Fault(Core Dumped)
  • Huh wha? ;)

    In the immortal words of Megadeth, "...two words combined that can't make sense."
  • you mean desktop workstations, PDAs, and laptops?
  • Business Intelligence... it's about time!

    All these Buzzword of the Month fads seem to be attempts to make up for things found lacking in the real world. I was hoping that with "Business Intelligence" we had finally gotten to the root problem. Instead, it's just additional evidence of the root problem.

  • I don't know about you, but most of the languages I'm familiar with pronouce 'x' with a 'SH' sound when it's part of a word.

    Which of course makes the name in-shite.

    Which is surprisingly worse than a company I worked for once called digital-freq pronounced 'digital-freak' Are there too many names copyrighted right now or something. Anything that makes you want to mumble your companies name when telling it to your friends should never have made it that far.
  • Speculative investment has to move towards startups (I.E., something that is really new and worth exploring) and not for 401K. What originally pissed me off about this was hearing senior execs virtually gushing about their ROI.

    I hate the bell curve concept, but there are those that are desperately trying to make it work within the now dead corp/marketing world.

    Once the MBAs gained control, all was lost.
  • by The_Steel_General (196801) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @02:17PM (#5764987)
    ...is that they are a lot of work.

    First, you have to make sure that your core data is good. The most useful way to organize it on the front end might not instantly show the best way for the CEO to see it on the back end. That means you have to translate that data (lists of order numbers, ordered products, persons ordering) into what the executive cares about (number of orders, products sold, money collected).

    Whoops -- you have to find out what the executive cares about, don't you? And it might not be as simple as what he says he cares about. Are there any orders he doesn't want included -- samples, say? If some products are bundled, do we include the combined products as units, or unbundled? Is "money collected" just the cash we now have in the bank, or is it money we have been promised, or the expected revenue from what has been sold? Hopefully, the executive will find time to define his requirements this precisely.

    Then you have to set up the system that can get your data from Point A to Point B. Easy if you are really certain what you are trying to answer. Not, if not.

    Once that's done, then you can consider setting up a "dashboard" -- assuming you're sure that you can define the business precisely enough, and won't miss an important metric along the way, and the business won't change -- hasn't changed -- in the meantime.

    I'm sure there are products that will make this process easier, but it's significant work for everyone involved. Although some of it could be automated, it will still require that the people setting it up actually THINK about what they are doing.

    TSG

  • Is it me, or is business intelligence increasingly becoming an oxymoron in the current business climate?
  • ...can be predicted from the past.

    Anyone who is in business knows all to well that the primary concern of a business executive is figuring out how to game the system so he can rake in a bundle of loot by whatever means possible. His tools are fraud, lies, double-dealing and partnerships with like minded people, as the employees of American Airlines just found out.

    Visualization software? Not bloody likely.

  • Consensus communities (AKA: Communities of Interest), using inter/intranet collaboration technologies in the future, will create the stronger, more competitive, and profitable businesses. Network sciences and knowledge-bases of the future will keep track of who is doing what and providing success for US. To stay competitive business will promote the (then discoverable and recognized) worker-bees and pack-mules with Type-1 personalities that are now being wasted and pushed out of the companies in mass. These
    • this is true--->".. companies fail because of management that gets rewarded for failure and criminal activity while employees suffer the consequences, lose their jobs, houses, college funds, retirement funds, ... "

      There's also )IMO) the phenomenon now where corporations are run into the ground on purpose, so that later on another fictititous shell company can snag their assets for pennies on the dollar. So a lot of times what is perceived to be management indifference or peter principle failure to be re
  • What would you expect from a culture that's been brought up on television? Everyone has become accustomed to understanding things when they view them, and less by their analysis. If children were brought up reading books as entertainment, and reading newspapers for the daily news, we'd be predicting a technology that made information easier to analyze, like some sort of database technology. Instead, we've gone in the way of having to see some sort of representation of data, instead of being able to draw

  • Select * from employees where clue > 0;
    0 rows effected

    Seems pretty clear to me.
  • Instead, they'll use business intelligence and performance management tools to make real-time shifts in strategy to respond to changes in the marketplace.

    I nominate this as the stupidest sentence in this buzz word extravaganza. For any thing to be truly real time, it has to be programmed into the machine...at which point it is no longer strategy. The strategy occurs in the process of designing the program.

    Strategy itself with always be a discrete deliberate act.

    The Data Warehouse industry is full

  • by Pettifogger (651170) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @04:27PM (#5765491)
    First, did anyone notice that both in the current article and the original "article" (the one solely comprised of quotes) that the sources ALL appear to be people trying to sell this stuff? Of course they think it's going to work.

    That aside, the point no one has brought up yet is that having second by second analysis of your sales, et al. is completely useless UNLESS you are also able to make second by second changes to your business to compensate for them. It is sort of like having a wristwatch that displayed time in nanoseconds. Sure, nanoseconds exist, they allow very precise time measurements, and so on an so forth. But other than physics experiments, would we really use them? Not only that, but if management makes stupid decisions on a daily basis, what do you think they'll be like on a minute-to-minute one?

    In my opinion, this is just more management crap that they're trying to sell to businesses. Their work has dried up from the boom years and they decided, "hey, here's a way we can do something that appears to be useful and make corporations pay a lot of money for our software and consulting!" In five years, I predict, these people will have fleeced the gullible and have moved on to the next "hot" fake trend.

  • Unfortunately, few in the slashdot community are familiar with this segment of our industry. Even fewer appear to be encumbered by this lack of knowledge.

    The terminology and concepts referred to in these articles are mostly old hat, and anyone who's good and has experience with:
    - decision support systems (DSS)
    - business intelligence (BI - similar to DSS)
    - data warehousing
    - ods
    - data marts
    - reporting
    - balanced score-cards
    - data mining
    - personalization
    - SPC
    - management scienc
  • by wytcld (179112) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @05:07PM (#5765670) Homepage
    There's a book well-known in the humanities, Visual Thinking [ucpress.edu] by Rudolph Arnheim, arguing that thinking is essentially visual. But most of the people working in cognitive science don't believe this, but instead that thinking is essentially linguistic (even if it's in something different from our public languages, such as Jerry Fodor's Language of Thought - where the most he'll give to visualization is that it can be an "image over a description").

    Or perhaps visual and linguistic intelligence both exist in their own right, but some cultures do better at one or the other? If so, we're still a culture built on "In the beginning was the Word." We think we're so visual because of movies and whatever, but compared to the visual immersion of a traditional tribal, forest culture in its heyday we're nowhere with vision. So what does it do if we get a bunch of executives "visualizing"? Does it really make them smarter than if they work out their decisions logically, in language, in the traditional way of our culture? Or is it just a new way of dressing up the yes-men?

    Even to the extent that we can importantly visualize, what gives you the clearer, more vital vision, a well crafted book - just words - or a comic? Because, let's face it, what software provides is at best like a cheap comic. And if financial markets are the measure of how bright visualization tools make us ... enough said.
    • Marshall McLuhan talks a lot about the differences between oral and visual cultures. The Western culture is visual, having long ago accustomed to written word and phonetic alphabet. For Western people, in the beginning there was the word and it was written. Then there are oral cultures, which rely more on spoken word. Chinese culture is oral, even though they have a way of writing (it's not an alphabet) - the hieroglyph is just a picture of the word. They tried to shift to Latin(?) alphabet in China, but as
  • The late '80s and early '90s saw mass layoffs of middle managers. That job market recovered somewhat, but in a few years it will happen again. Why have visualization techniques when the information those techniques display could be better analyzed by the computer displaying the information? Soon we will have computers advanced enough to cheaply perform advanced optimization such as nonlinear programming and forecasting with accuracy better than people can achieve, and enough data will be gathered in digital
  • My experience... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by reynolds_john (242657) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @07:07PM (#5766182)
    Is that the big companies (Cognos, IBM, Microsoft, and others) sell their slick products very well (hell I used to do it too) to the CEOs and executives. Unfortunately, those slick visualization tools require a HUGE amount of planning and organization in order to produce a single slick graph and/or chart.

    Actual data marts or (god forbid) data warehouses which span information from disparate sources require expert project management and control, not to mention buy-in from all departments. Let's not gloss over the security issues, data retention, extraction, and a cornicopia of problems along with it.

    Most of these companies get in the door through the following ways:

    1. Slick sales
    2. The loathed "proof of concept" in which they take some snippet of your data and create a cube which is just good enough to sell the rest of the product.
    3. Exaggerated promises

    Let's face it - very few companies have 'clean' data out there, and the required work to make dimensions stretch across the enterprise is mind-numbing. Then, just as you have it down and finished, some department installs an upgrade, or switches a product, and you have to redesign your dimensions and ETL all over again. Woohhoooo!

    **sigh** I love BI, but companies typically just don't get the actual investment you have to make in order to get those great graphs and drill-downs.

    &J
    • You're right - these companies exaggerate the simplicity of the implementation of these products.

      However, this is due to the fact that they push products - not processes. The technology isn't the challenge, and the products are seldom the answer - the answer is a highly iterative process, BI & DW best practices, a staff that can handle basic numbers, and culture that encourages questioning.

      I've been doing BI for ten years now and have seen quite a few substantial successes. It's also one of the reas
  • How many people in IT have heard BS like this time after time year after year...?

    Its bad enough I have to hear this bullshit at work, 'forecasts' made by a buzzspeaking fuckstick that never ring true, but *please* don't let this garbage take over Slashdot...It may not be much, but this place is all I have left...*sniff*

    Seriously, if you want to read garbage like this pick up a Information Week [informationweek.com] Red Herring [redherring.com] or Business 2.0 [business2.com] then look at the people that are reading them.

    Dont want to read it anymore do yo

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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