Jan 3, 2010

The Battle of Business and Intelligence

Alexander Paleologies & Rudy Garcia SAP Procurement leads at Anderson Consulting and SCC said in 2002- 'Two things missing from many BI implementations - business and intelligence'
Our quest leads us to ask why Business, Intelligence and Technology are divided. As BI is about making the business connection why has evolution so carefully prevented the merging of these three critical components that spell BI SUCCESS.

There is nonetheless a significant difference in how these three components work.
Normally we expect Business, intelligence and technology to work in harmony by conflicting power blocks, influence areas and individual agendas derail the harmonizing process. The irony is that that we may not even be aware of this constant battle and its effect on the overall performance and Business Value success of our BI investments.

As a comparison these are three hemispheres that need to harmonize in Business Intelligence. Very much like the two hemispheres of the brain. If not then the whole process becomes dysfunctional. The three hemispheres are BIT.
So rather than delve into the three hemispheres of BI let’s talk of the two hemispheres of the brain and see if we can learn anything from our own way of thinking.

From standard neuropsychology it seems evident that the right hemisphere pays wide open attention to the whole world. It sees the overall status of our environment. While the left hemisphere focuses on specific details. Thus new experiences are best handled by the right and analysis and detailed focus of past experiences by the left. The right hemisphere view is based on global trends and nuances of global influences.

Conversely because of the sharp focus the left hemisphere is unable to see the total view - it is inherently blind to the world around us.
There is a reason we have two hemispheres. We need both versions of the world.

Without the global right version we become socially impaired, emotionally insensitive, and have unbalanced understanding of our art, beauty, social norms, and religion.

Without the left hemisphere we continue to struggle capabilities to bring anything to focus or review anything in detail.

If a person, or society were to imbalance itself more on any one hemisphere there will come a time for corrections.

According to Ian McGilchrist, in WSJ, for the last 2,500 years we have focused a greater imbalance towards the left side of the brain. Greece pointed out many centuries ago how leveraging both hemispheres can bring about harmony. It taught us to look at both the society and ourselves in logic, politics, art. The great tragic Greek drama is based on this fundamental balance of the outside and the inside. During the convergence age, i.e. 500BC to 100BC there was a lot of work on the right side of the brain thus we find all the leaders of philosophy, religion and theology exist in that specific period.

On the science side we have focused on the left side of the brain.

In time an imbalance has appeared. In time the partnership somehow got lost.
Today we are in the Information Age. Getting back to our world we see a lot of left brain development in our BI evolution. Science, technology and focus has dominated the BI development and analytics. The right hemisphere has been systematically discounted.
Getting back to BI and just focusing on three hemispheres, i.e. Business, intelligence and Technology we see that technology is a left hemisphere embodiment, Intelligence a Right hemisphere and business a mixture of the two.
In the late 80's to the end of the last century when Bill Inmon introduced the concepts of BI they were left centric. DW was all about data and focus on data. it was assumed, and still is in most data warehouses that if you have all the data then companies should be able to get any information -so the focus was technology and data. What this has resulted in is extremely large DW's that do not deliver in accordance to Business expectations. Basis of this assumption is the feedback from 1,500 CEO's in the Gartner BI report of Feb 2009.

By the early 2000 DW started to become Business Intelligence. What evolved was the introduction of Intelligence. As more and more companies invested into Bi they all had two common experiences

1. Users scored in the 90's when asked if their BI had the potential to delivr their needs.
    The continue to score in the 20's and 30's when asked if current reports meet their business needs
2. The gap between potential and Attainment is the BI enigma of the century, we call it Business Value Attainment
What business needed in the middle of Intelligence and Technology was reports that they could use on a day-to-day basis, but the battle of Tech vs. Intelligence wages on and business got caught in the middle.

Technology is exclusive of business or intelligence. It does not consider business needs or has the capabilities to deliver to business needs independent of business or intelligence.

Intelligence is inclusive of technology and business. It needs the input from business and then review the technology for its capabilities and limitations

Business still needs their day to day reports and only then the fancy metrics and dashboards that technology continues to sprout across the planet in all their BI implementations. So what most BI implementations end up with is fancy metrics that need another 2-3 years to actually fix, and little or no day-to-day actionable reports.
Whereas Intelligence feeds on negative feedback, business needs simple actionable inputs. Technology unfortunately got locked ever further into its own points of views. It capabilities are limited to doing the same thing and no further unless Intelligence or business intervenes.
Thus as our BI world becomes more and more rule and technology bound, we may possibly loose our ability to listen to business and thereby leverage the intelligence component so essential for Business Intelligence.
In the recent past there is a great reliance on conceptual and technology values. In going all out for for what we believe will bring us business value realization, we exploit business and intelligence and sometimes begin to see ourselves as alien to them. We have see some BI implementations where communicating with business about BI Deliverables, plans or designs is prohibited. In this single step we have also compromised intelligence and put all our eggs into the technology basket.

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