Business Intelligence: When Case Studies Are Not

June 25, 2020

A case study in the good old days was a little soft, a little firm, and a lot mushy. The precise definition of a case study is “it depends.” The problem is that case studies are often not easily duplicated. The data collection methods vary because many organizations do not keep data or, if kept, do not maintain data in a consistent manner. There’s a bright young sprout who wants data in a format unintelligible to other people and maybe systems.

Other minor potholes wander through thickets of subjectivity and into the mysterious world of sparse data. Ever heard, “Well, we don’t have that data, but we can take the inverse of these data and use them.”

The silly idea of answer who, what, why, where, where, and how are often discarded because the information is not available, secret, or just too much work. Just because you know. Meetings.

I thought about the murky world of case studies when I read “5 Valuable Business Intelligence Use Cases for Organizations.” First, there is the word “valuable.” Second, there is the phrase “business intelligence.” Third, there is the jargon “use cases.” Examples is a useful word. Why not employ it?

What caught my attention was that the examples illustrate the type of effort a group of volunteers make when no one wants to work very hard. You may have participated in filling a food basket with canned goods which few would actually consume.

Let’s look at one “use case,” and I will leave it to you to dig through the other four.

Use case number 2 explains how business intelligence can speed up and make better decision making manifest themselves. Okay, we have this pandemic thing. We have a bit of a financial downturn. We have the disruption of supply chains. We have the work from home method. We have Zoom solutions to knit together humans who like to hang out in break rooms and share gossip.

The fix is to use business intelligence to bring

together data mining, data analysis and data visualization to give executives and other business users a comprehensive view of enterprise data, which they can then use to make business decisions in a more informed way.

Now what do these terms mean? Data mining, data analysis, and data visualization. Where to the data come from? Are the data valid? Are the data comprehensive?

The “evidence” in the example is a survey conducted in a sample of an unknown number. The sample which may or may not be representative reports that “reliable data” is a hurdle. No kidding.

The case explains that the shift to real time data is important. Plus real time data piped into predictive analytics allows “fast action.”

The conclusion: Instantaneous decisions are possible.

Net net: The write up is a fluffy promotion of a nebulous concept. Use case my foot! I made an instant decision. Business intelligence like knowledge management and content management is a confection.

That’s why crazy “use case” explanations are needed. The other four examples in the article? Similar. Disconnected. A food basket filled with stuff no one will consume.

Stephen E Arnold, June 25, 2020


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