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Subtle Hidden Trends in Business Intelligence and Analytics

Haranath Gnana
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
 Haranath Gnana
Business intelligence (BI) trend articles from a variety of authors are published fairly frequently. For this reason, I initially resisted writing another but noticed that not many folks were talking about or even mentioning anything beyond the current usual suspects of big data, the cloud, unstructured data, Agile BI (the iterative approach), self-service enablement, etc. While these do represent big disruptions in the BI landscape today, I want to share some insights about a couple of trends that I believe can have an equal or even bigger impact on how business intelligence is consumed.

Actionable versus Action-Enabled Business Intelligence Although “information-enabled decisions” is a philosophy that has been discussed and promoted widely in the recent times, information-enabled decisions have not yet become the mainstream SOP (standard operating procedure). Now that many business leaders are mobile and/or remote, information-enabled decisions have become an even bigger challenge.

With the entrance of iPhone a few years ago, it appeared that the mobile workforce would have access to entities beyond email and calendar that the BlackBerry had made so popular. The iPhone interface allowed for information and insights to be presented to the field force, better enabling the field force, and these devices gained pretty quick broad adoption. But the form factor was still too small for effective use of information. With the entrance of the iPad, that changed completely. Now there is a platform that allows the mobile workforce to gain access to insights without a constrained screen size. Given that enterprises are spending a lot of effort generating and presenting relevant information nuggets / insights, there is a clear push for “actionable intelligence.” Now available to the field force on their tablets, this becomes “actionable intelligence OnTheGo.”

However, the added twist to this is what I term “action-enabled business intelligence” or, adding the mobility aspect to this, mobile action-enabled BI (MAEBI). (I pronounce it mayeebuy). Here users are presented with not just the “actionable insights,” but also the relevant transactional screens that enable them to make a decision and take an action.

For example, think of a marketing executive running a campaign. With mobile-enabled business intelligence, he / she would have access to all of the details of how the campaign is progressing. Of course, this assumes that the plumbing between the campaign management system and the BI repository has been set up, which has become quite common in enterprises today. However, when the presentation of the information to this marketing business user is not just the BI insight but also presents the BI information on the same screen in the context of the actual possible actions this person could take, then the person’s decision-making process – including the action taken – becomes a lot more efficient. This is the concept of “action enabled business intelligence.” This is also sometimes referred to as “BI Composite Application Screens.” Now the iPad makes this possible for the business users on-the-go – making this the “mobile action enabled BI.”

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