Last update: 08/10/2020 11:36

Business Intelligence

Originally published on 24/06/2016 14:53

With Quitus/TRQL, Lato Sensu Management has fully embraced the principle that we need to focus more and more on the Business Intelligence. Business Intelligence will most probably be the driving force of the next 2 to 5 years of IT expansion and since we say that software eats the world

Since 2009, Business Intelligence has been at the center of the interest of companies and charismatic individuals. More people and more organizations have understood that data, when anylized properly, contain extremely valuable information. This has pushed companies and governmental bodies equally to (1) prepare and consume data, (2) expose and share data, and (3) gather/acquire new data, more and more, and quicker and quicker. However, since the hapax of 2010, the interest seems in decline regularly, at least when tracked with the Business Intelligence terms which seem to have been replaced by Big Data, Deep Learning, Predictive Analysis, etc. for which the interest is growing forte.

The evolution of the Business Intelligence terms on ngram (Google)

When it comes to data consumption, companies can turn to a myriad of sources, internal or external, public or private, freely accessible or for a fee. This has been going on for some time, but the movement is accelerating. regularly.

The data are accessible, again free of charge or against a paid subscription. And again, this is accelerating firmly, which makes the situation of last month an obsolete picture: it requires a global and constant outlook. For example, in Belgium, the Banque Carrefour is providing basic data about all existing companies and organizations that have a VAT account (address, phone number, administrator, NACE codes, …). This kind of information is heavily used in Quitus/TRQL for example, our Enterprise Suite targeted at small and very small businesses and also for self-employed people. France has announced the same sort of initiative for 2017 already, which is threatening the monopolistic situation of Sirene. The world is changing! No! Change of world!

And last but not least, everybody is keen gathering new data, more and more, about anything (or should I say everything?). Good or bad, Wrong or right, this is not the question. This is a reality! There also, there is a clear acceleration.

These 3 vectors ― consume, expose/share and gather, and maybe not in that order ― are all three submitted to the new technologies, software and hardware, that come around and make all this possible : powerpul chips, powerful ubiquitous servers, network capabilities, mobile devices, satellites, transmission, increased storage capacity, etc. Companies that want to take advantage of the new paradigm in Business Intelligence must keep up with a dozen new technologies to let indeed data spit valuable information [1] . It must do that to cross-compare data, extract information and represent this information better than it did it in the past … swiftly when not in real-time. The emphasis is thus on extraction, meaning, and representation and the technologies that permit just that, sometimes requestioning what we thought were stable knowledge (e.g. data normalization and the NoSQL movement).

To be able to take that train, organizations will have to close the gap between Business and IT, often requestioning the inner sense of what their real Business is. In our opinion, many companies haven't clearly understood that they have become IT companies, partially or in whole. Such is the case of the Insurance and Banking sectors that are shaking on their very basis for quite some time now ! But what to think of these economic sectors, seriously affected by the Covid-19 crisis and which could only with great difficulty adapt to the introduction of mass telework. Of course, this goes far beyond the simple framework of Business Intelligence but if we think about it with some hindsight, it is no longer possible to start a Digital Transformation and neglect Business Intelligence. It would be unreasonable. It would be beyond all … intelligence.

Closing the gap between IT and Business, related to Business Intelligence, requires to build a "data value chain" or "data continuum" that will be capable to examine the external as well as internal contexts. Data analysis can equally be about market, customers, competitors, employees, processes, partners, suppliers, etc. Lato Sensu Management believes that Business Intelligence will invest all these fields rapidly, or will keep investing these fields, possibly combining this quest with additional interests.

Speed and dispatch are paramount in that game. Information extracted from data must flow rapidly to the right people, which is no sibylline change. This calls for agile and flexible organizations, something that already proved to be extremely difficult for few mastodons, and which requires to build an evolutive digital spine hosting millions, if not billion, of pulses. Data will have to land in the baskets of the ones who have a need for it, and when they need it. That is the case for example when companies tend to establish direct feedback loops with the customers/end-users, feedback loops that feed directly the backlogs of the teams that built the product/service in the first place. Just an example that seems very simple to point out but whose consequences are excessively numerous and can be very profound. This example of a direct feedback loop between the product/service and the team that built it is perfectly illustrative of what Digital Transformations are trying to solve by accelerating cycles and eliminating intermediaries without any added value. Information now flows directly between the consumer and not the company but rather one of its teams. Where is Business Intelligence in this loop, how can it be activated?

To gather more and more data is also a challenge of its own. The cloud is THE solution, even though storage capacities have increased tenfold since the mid-2000s. But embracing the cloud has not been a pervasive movement yet in most large organizations, apart a few experiments that are conducted in labs. Even with this rather pessimistic view, Lato Sensu believes that more and more companies will embrace the cloud context to discover that it has become a very secured [2] and highly scalable place, a place that offers tons of intelligent tools to work on data: cloud vendors offer a clumb of very intelligent solutions, ranging from statistical utilities to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Crunching and so on. A quick view on the Microsoft services, or Google APIs, or Amazon services gives you an idea of what is possible nowadays with (very) limited investment. These services, which are offered almost for free [3] propose unsurpassed possibilities such as Machine Learning and Intelligent Analysis with very sophisticated models. Yet Lato Sensu Management is also investing its time in its own set of solutions, sometimes very basic (such as Naive Baeysian Networks) but also extremely effective in doing their job easily.

And all this is even without taking a deep breath to examine what IoT has to offer: intelligent sensors, real-time communication, data exchange between machines that will consume and expose data at their sole discretion. The list of possibilities is limitless: intelligent boilers, intelligent gas meters, smart electricity meters, …

The years to come are definitely those of business intelligence and data value chains, whatever their container, Digital Transformation or not. That's what we believe.

Footnotes

[1] … Turning data into information is at the core of Business Intelligence

[2] … It is also important not to be naive; it is up to you to know what data you want to migrate to the Cloud!

[3] … Many mid-size companies can use these services without ever exceeding the quotas offered through free subscriptions.

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