Business Intelligence: What Is Hot? What Is Not?

July 16, 2018

I read “Where Business Intelligence is Delivering Value in 2018.” The write up summarizes principal findings from a study conducted by Dresner Advisory Services, an outfit with which I am not familiar. I suggest you scan the summary in Cloud Tweaks and then, if you find the data interesting, chase after the Dresner outfit. My hunch is that the sales professionals will respond to your query.

Several items warranted my uncapping my trusty pink marker and circling an item of information.

First, I noticed a chart called Technologies and Initiatives Strategic to Business Intelligence. The chart presents data about 36 “technologies.” I noticed that “enterprise search” did not make the list. I did note that cognitive business intelligence, artificial intelligence, t4ext analytics, and natural language analytics did. If I were generous to a fault, I would say, “These Dresner analysts are covering enterprise search, just taking the Tinker Toy approach by naming areas of technologies.” However, I am not feeling generous, and I find it difficult to believe that Dresner or any other knowledge worker can do “work” without being able to find a file, data, look up a factoid, or perform even the most rudimentary type of research without using search. The omission of this category is foundational, and I am not sure I have much confidence in the other data arrayed in the report.

Second, I don’t know what “data storytelling” is. I suppose (and I am making a wild and crazy guess here) that a person who has some understanding of the source data, the algorithmic methods used to produce output, and the time to think about the likely accuracy of the output creates a narrative. For example, I have been in a recent meeting with the president of a high technology company who said, “We have talked to our customers, and we know we have to create our own system.” Obviously the fellow knows his customers, essentially government agencies. The customers (apparently most of them) want an alternative, and realizes change is necessary. The actual story based on my knowledge of the company, the product and service he delivers, and the government agencies’ budget constraints. The “real story” boils down to: “Deliver a cheaper product or you will lose the contract.” Stories, like those from teenagers who lose their homework, often do not reflect reality. What’s astounding is that data story telling is number eight on the hit parade of initiatives strategic to business intelligence. I was indeed surprised. But governance made the list as did governance. What the heck is governance?

Third, take a look at this chart. If you find it difficult to read, check out the source for the story. I warn you: this chart is one of the more understandable one in the document.

cloudtweaks chart

What the chart reports as statistically valid data is that the manufacturing sector is not moving to the head of the pack for use of business intelligence. What sector is the leader? It looks to me that insurance is the gung ho sector. Your analysis of the contradictory y axis and the legend may yield a different observation. But that won’t matter. The industry which, by definition, should be the leader is business intelligence is, based on our research, financial services. Money is information as one of my former clients told me before he died of a heart attack after a not so good 2008.

What did I learn from this report?

  1. Jargon does not clarify even when backed by statistical data and charts
  2. Fuzzy concepts used to explain the fuzzy concept of business intelligence means that the data are fuzzy in my book
  3. Advisory services are pretty clever when it comes to marketing.

Stephen E Arnold, July 16, 2018


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