The Next Chapter

Predictions: Business-intelligence tools will put middle managers out of work. And e-mail will be mined for valuable information.

TOTAL AUTOMATION

In 10 years, virtually all operational decision-making within the enterprise will be automated, thus eliminating the need for more than 65% of the middle management workforce. Today, the most innovative business-intelligence technology is able to recommend the optimal course of action based on business rules, representing the first step in automated decision-making. Tomorrow, automated business models and decision-making processes will optimize goal-setting and performance.

Scott Wiener, chief technology officer, Certive Corp., Redwood City, Calif.

PREDICTING EPIDEMICS

Business-intelligence technology will have a big impact in the medical profession. In the next five to 10 years, it will be possible to determine disease susceptibility in humans and create customized medications for individual patients based on their genetic makeup. And by combining data analytics with geographic information systems, it will be possible to predict and visualize disease outbreaks across the globe.

Don Hatcher, vice president of technology strategy, and Anne Milley, director of analytical strategy, SAS Institute Inc., Cary, N.C.

MERGING WITH PORTALS

Organizations usually view portals and business intelligence separately, but in the next few years, the two will become integrated. These technologies can shrink the amount of data that has to be analyzed to make a decision, in an era when people have less time and must focus on the decision criteria that truly make a difference.

Shari A. Rogalski, associate partner, Accenture Ltd., Minneapolis

MINING THE E-MAIL PILE

Companies are just starting to realize the valuable knowledge and intellectual property that can be found in their e-mail archives. Over the next five to 10 years, those archives will become fully indexed, searchable, rich databases that provide insights about business issues, employees and where competitive advantage resides. For example, a CEO could quickly find out what's going on in a plant in Mexico, without ever leaving his office at headquarters.

Greg Arnette, founder and chief technology officer, IntelliReach Corp., Dedham, Mass.

LOCATION MATTERS

Over the next two years, companies will realize that getting a return on their customer relationship management investments will require combining information about the location of competitors, the location of customers, the demographics and purchase behavior characteristics in different neighborhoods, and the location of business assets -- whether they're stores, cell towers or kiosks.

Kevin Antram, vice president and general manager of the CRM business unit, MapInfo Corp., Troy, N.Y.

VENDORS CONSOLIDATE

By the end of 2004, the business-intelligence market will morph from its current makeup of way-too-many tools vendors into a smaller universe of best-of-breed, industry-focused vendors. IBM will compete more vigorously with Microsoft's analytics offerings, probably by acquiring an established vendor like Crystal Decisions Inc. or Cognos Inc. More than two-thirds of the business-intelligence tool vendors in business today will evaporate through acquisitions and closures.

Mike Hennel, president and CEO, Silvon Software Inc., Westmont, Ill.

SELF-HEALING WAREHOUSE

The greatest struggle with business intelligence is the continuous need to ensure that the lowest levels of data used in the summarized analytics and dashboards remain clean, consistent and relevant. We need the data warehouse to have a self-healing capability to automatically sense, detect, notify and repair (when possible) any incorrect, missing or unreconciled data elements. But it will take at least two or three years for that to happen.

Scott Hicar, CIO, Maxtor Corp., Longmont, Colo.

DASHBOARDS RULE

By 2006, most managers will make daily decisions from an on-screen intelligence dashboard. This will be driven by the need for greater productivity, the frenetic pace at which business decisions must be made and an extremely overworked and streamlined corporate workforce. This sort of business intelligence will not only change how managers make decisions, but also how corporations and executives are measured.

Brian Gentile, executive vice president, Brio Software Inc., Santa Clara, Calif.

FRAUDBUSTERS

In about two years, we'll be able to catch fraudulent activity nationally and internationally in real time. By analyzing historical fraud activity and tracking present infractions, we can uncover the illegal transport of people, goods and money, as countries share more and more data.

Ron Swift, vice president of Teradata, a division of NCR Corp., Dayton, Ohio

THE AUTOBOTS ARE COMING

I expect data mining "autobots" to be included in analytic software within five years, a critical step for improving the utility of data mining technology. These automated tools for finding important and nonobvious data relationships will reduce or eliminate the need for specialized skills to perform data mining.

Richard Skriletz, national managing principal for business intelligence, RCG Information Technology Inc., Edison, N.J.

By early 2004, predictive analytics will be used in the human resources department to determine which job applicants are most likely to remain with an organization for five to 10 years rather than leave after six months. Predictive analytics will also be used to predict which employees will fit in with a team or are better suited to be a manager or in an individual contributor role. They'll also be used to predict which employees will provide the best customer service or be most likely to steal from the company.

Michael D. Blair, chairman and CEO, Cyborg Systems Inc., Chicago

Special Report

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Mining for Gems

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Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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