Business intelligence–and its predecessor concepts decision support, executive information systems, and so forth–have been circulating for several decades in business. However, I don’t think it’s ever fully worked. What we’ve done is to throw data (often in the form of difficult-to-navigate data warehouses) and software tools at business users, and said “Go at it.” That’s simply been too hard. We used a lot of terms like “ad hoc queries” and “drill down,” but it simply didn’t happen very often.
I’ve argued for a while that organizations need to increase their focus on decision-making. In particular, they need to think again about the relationship between information and decision-making. I recently completed a study on this topic, with the sponsorship of IBM’s Information Management business unit, in which I looked at 26 efforts to improve decision-making in organizations. I concluded the following ten things about how business intelligence (BI) needs to evolve: