Modern business intelligence (BI) systems provide their users with access to huge volumes of business data, presented in clear and readily understood formats. On the basis of this data, users can make rapid, well-informed decisions that contribute directly to their employers’ business objectives.
So goes the theory. In reality, BI systems often do not present a wide enough variety of data for making good decisions. It mostly offers analyses of historical structured data and that only from the organisation’s databases. Those analyses are laborious to set up, slow to run and are delivered in isolation from other important information. Non-technical, mainly human, factors in the overall system often hinder BI software’s ability to make a positive contribution.
Can this situation be remedied? The software side of it can, at least. (As always, it is in the hands of the user organisation what happens about the other, wider aspects.)
What users need is BI software that:
- Gives them access to a broad range of data types, internal and external
- Presents information in a relevant context
- Allows easily constructed queries that are rapidly answered
- Aids shared consideration of information.
This Spotlight paper examines the problems with BI systems, looks at the changes needed and why, and suggests some approaches to meeting the user’s demands.