Despite the Business Intelligence being the top priority for for CIO’s for the last three years, and it’s long history their are many people in business who have no idea what it is.  So I was delighted to be asked to present to the executive MBA class at Cranfield School of Management yesterday as part of a series on the key technologies business should invest in.

It was interesting the my co speaker Rob Todd of Adventus came out with very similar advice around enterprise systems: one version of the truth, the need for really good cooperation between the business, the software vendor and the system implementation team for example. 

I also got a lot of good questions & comment such as

”If the algorithm for a KPI is only held in one place and the whole business relies on it and it turns out to have an error in it it will affect the whole business”

Absolutely right, but what’s the alternative to have that KPI embedded in reports and spreadsheets throughout the business , which would lead to multiple versions only some of which might be correct.  If the rules change all of these would have to be changed so far better to have the one source and make very sure it is correct through thorough testing and change control.

You say that BI evolved form Executive Information Systems and Decision Support Systems, what will be the new name for BI”?

I think that BI is a good term for what it does, and it hasn’t had the bad press overall that some of the component parts have such as data warehouses, so I don’t see it changing anytime soon.  There is a lot of talk about Business and Enterprise Performance Management, but this is one use of BI, namely as part of a structured process to monitor analyse and plan change to a business.  There is also personal BI , so I keep track of how I am doing at work and at home, and there is team BI for the group or division you’re in.

I also think business likes stability and not changing names or coming out with new terms for the same old stuff, could win the IT industry a few friends and remember these are the people who are signing the cheques!

I also found it interesting that thee were only a couple of students who had come across the balanced scorecard before, given that so many vendors, Microsoft included extensive support for this in their products. IMO this is a simple but effective technique for aligning everyone’s efforts to the corporate strategy.