The Future of BI

Get ready: Business intelligence will mean more people viewing more data in more detail.

When it comes to information consumption, IT journalists and IT managers aren't all that different. We both plow through Web sites, articles, reports, vendor pitches, conference presentations -- and, most important, conversations with IT managers -- and then we try to make sense of it all. In the process of doing that sort of data mining for this special report, Computerworld identified the following megatrends:

  • Information democracy. Companies are putting business intelligence tools and dashboards in the hands of hundreds of white-collar employees, not just a few marketing or financial analysts.
  • Unstructured data. Tomorrow's data warehouses will have free-form text -- like notes from the call center agent about why the customer hated your product -- and even images.
  • Predictive analytics. Tools that can predict what your customers are likely to buy, and when they're likely to defect, will be extremely powerful .
  • Integration. BI software will be blended into regular operations to the point where managers will be able to monitor business activity throughout the day and some business decisions will be automated.

This all sounds great, but there are some cautionary notes. BI requires continuous, aggressive efforts to clean and standardize the underlying data. Plus, the hordes of newly empowered BI end users need to be trained so they don't make costly mistakes with these powerful tools. (Otherwise, they'll be empowered to make bad decisions very fast.) And we still need people in the loop to make sense of it all.

Mitch Betts is Computerworld's Features editor. Contact him at

Special Report

The Future of BI

Stories in this report:

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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