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June 1, 2010

What business intelligence is NOT

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I received the latest newsletter from BeyeNETWORK today and what immediately caught my eye was the article by Richard Herschel titled "What is Business Intelligence?" The article goes into all of the typical discussions about BI:
  • Is it part of Knowledge Management?
  • Should Business Intelligence be included in the information systems field?
  • Is Business intelligence a system, environment, a solution, and/or an offering?
  • Is it a combination of statistical and data-mining capabilities?
Before providing his own "definition" of BI, Herschel states "Data and analytics are together the foundations of business intelligence." I believe that data is an important part of the backbone needed to get at the intelligence, but I don't believe it is foundational to the definition itself.

The author would like us to consider an alternate definition:

    Business intelligence is the application of data, technology, and analytics to gain insight and knowledge that enables decisions about people, processes, products, and services that yield positive economic outcomes.
I don't understand why people continually try to define business intelligence when it has already been done. The Gartner Group coined the term business intelligence in the mid-1990s and defined it as follows:

    An interactive process for exploring and analyzing structured and domain-specific information to discern trends or patterns, thereby deriving insights and drawing conclusions. The business intelligence process includes communicating findings and effecting change. (Source:
There are clear distinctions between the definitions. Herschel insists on bringing data and technology into the equation when they have nothing whatsoever to do with deriving insights and drawing conclusions.

Please, please, please, stop re-inventing the wheel and causing even more confusion. It's madness already, another spin on the words is only going to make things worse.

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