After years of minor, incremental advances in how we perceive and use BI, we are now witnessing a resurgence in the way we utilize BI in organizations. This is often dubbed “BI 3.0” – the new generation of BI solutions.
Initially, BI – or, more accurately, BI 1.0 – was about how to present data. As users, we were mainly focused on how to best store our ever-escalating amounts of data, and how to enable know-how specialists (aka BI analysts) to sift through it so they can provide management with valuable information for decision-making..
Utilization of computer tools for business users and managers alike proliferated in the years since. Managers were not content with receiving information weeks after the fact and wanted to know what happens in real time. For this reason, BI 2.0 was introduced. It brought us new tools such as Dashboards, KPIs and Scorecards, and moved us slightly away from looking at the actual data. It allowed us to give users just the information that is interesting to them, but only if it is predefined (aka hardcoded).
However, these tools are now outdated and inadequate. They do not take into account the speed in which businesses operate and the fact that our business information and knowledge resides only partially in data warehouses. In addition, BI 2.0 tools have not succeeded in going beyond very few users in organizations (typically only from 3% to 8% of business and management users). Many opportunities to use BI 2.0 tools to improve how organizations do business have been missed.
On the other hand, wherever we look, we are surrounded by new technologies that hand us information to assist us in our lives. Bing offers us news items, , Amazon recommends what to read, Facebook keeps us in touch with our friends, and LinkedIn enables us to check out our possible next employer. (Happily, we can accept or decline any of these choices.)
We are ready for a new BI paradigm that utilizes these technologies to make BI much better, much faster, and much stronger. We are ready for BI 3.0.
This new BI revolution is centered on five main technologies:
• New approach to data modeling – The ability to absorb data on-the-fly through in-memory technologies. This allows organizations to continue examining new data, or observe old data in new ways, without needing to pre-define how we want to analyze it.
• BI 3.0 is for business users – BI needs to give insight and analysis tools that fit ALL business and management users. Organizations cannot rely on a few BI specialists to dictate the “right” and “wrong” ways of doing things. BI is a core component in the continuous effort to improve the business and should be owned by the ones who are responsible for it – management, marketing, sales, operations, etc. The implication is that BI 3.0 should be easy to use and understand. It should also allow users to make it fit their own specific needs ( on their own.)
• BI everywhere – We can communicate wherever we are. We can get emails everywhere. We are able to continue our work on-the-go, whether we are between buildings on our campus, traveling enroute to another (happy) customer, or on our way to vacation. (Though I would highly recommend that, while on vacation, you should actually have a vacation.) BI is important enough for your work to be available everywhere as well. To ensure business continuity, the same tools must be available regardless of the media – whether desktops, mobile phones, or tablets.
• Relevant Intelligence -BI 3.0 is all about giving you the right information for you. It is not about pre-defining what you see – it is about giving you information you are not aware you need to see. This enables users to find insight they were not aware they were looking for.
• Social BI – if you try to achieve your goals alone, you will never be able to a accomplish as much as with teamwork. This is just as true for BI. BI 3.0 is about enabling users to work together (using social tools) to gain a much higher level of insight.
We are already seeing a few glimpses of products that enable you to enjoy this new world of BI. The leader in this field is, of course, Panorama Necto, which was recently launched and is already gaining popularity. Microsoft is bringing forward important components for this new generation of BI. Denali will have the infrastructure to support faster data modeling that will maintain better relevancy. Windows Mobile and Slates are excellent choices for mobility and business continuity, and SharePoint is an exceptional framework to integrate BI with organizational material and users. Panorama Necto, together with the new Microsoft tools and technology, allow users to easily harness BI 3.0 and achieve higher insight.
As the old Texan proverb goes, “If what you do is what you did, then what you’ll get is what you got.” This applies for BI as well. If you want to gain more from your Business Intelligence (as you should), you need BI 3.0.