This article originally appeared on the BeyeNETWORK
Through my work in the business intelligencefield, I have come to realize that even though the term business intelligence (BI) has been around for some 15 years, there are still many business users that have no clue what it means. Therefore, I have prepared a questionnaire that can be used to evaluate how knowledgeable business users are about business intelligence. The results of this questionnaire can help to position business intelligence at work.
1. What can corporate performance management (CPM) – also referred to as business performance management (BPM) or enterprise performance management (EPM) – do for you that business intelligence cannot?
- It can greatly enhance my vocabulary because it seems that CPM marketing regularly creates new expressions.
- It can help me skip simple boring BI solutions such as standardized reporting and instead go directly for the flashy stuff.
- Heck, why deal with CPM in the first place when there will be something newer and sexier within the next two years?
2. Should data quality be taken into account for BI projects, or should it be left out as usual?
- Data quality is IT’s problem, so this question is irrelevant to me as a business user.
- Data quality is a nuisance that should be treated with care.
- Data quality is important. It is just that it is so boring.
3. OLAP is often mentioned with business intelligence. It means that data can be sliced and diced. Why is this advantageous?
- It will help me defend myself against mean people in Texas with chainsaws that also have a tendency to slice things – albeit people rather than data.
- It can help me to exploit data through multidimensional cubes. (And, let’s forget that not even Einstein would have been able to explain what a cube with more than three dimensions looks like.)
- It will make me do my analyses faster, thus being able to produce more stuff in less time – once I have decided to finally abandon Excel.
4. Data mining has been around for some time. What is the biggest barrier to success when using data mining tools?
- Data mining is so strange and nerdy that the decision makers feel that, their intuition is superior to some “black-box” analysis they cannot understand.
- The data preparation that needs to be done and its often inherent data quality problems (see question 2),
- Both the above answers.
5. BAM sounds cool. What is it?
- It means business activity monitoring and is one of best three-letter acronyms to appear for quite some time.
- It is closely related to BPM (see question 1) and means that business has to be both monitored and managed. With BAM, it can be done in real time, which is nice as long as someone with decision power is actually constantly sitting in front of the computer screen.
- It is what it sounds like when BAM does not work and the production system blows up – in real time.
6. Every respectable business intelligence solution needs at least one data warehouse. Should the data warehouse be built before buying the cool BI software or afterward?
- Before, because the investment will be so big that we just have to buy the coolest software or the whole BI investment will be wasted.
- After, because the cool BI interface will be a great driver to actually put some data into it – which is done through the data warehouse.
- Both – before so that lots of money will quickly be put into the BI project, andafterwards so that we can take care of all the problems and missed user needs.
7. Some say that a BI implementation is not a project but a whole process. How will this affect you as a business user of the BI solution?
- It means that in order to make it look normal, a forever ongoing project is instead called a process.
- It means that I will have to continuously deal with the BI developers until the end of time.
- In reality, it means nothing.
8. Star schemas are often used to model the data in the data warehouse. Which star schema model is the best for advanced business?
- The twelve-dimensional upside-down star-schema model.
- The Big Dipper.
- The one that resembles the stars seen the day after having engaged in too much BI (as in Beer Intake).
9. The older term for business intelligence was decision support systems (DSS). Why is it important to know this?
- It clearly shows that there is something more to business intelligence than colors and reports; it actually should be a help in decision-making processes.
- It shows that today’s business is moving ever-faster and that, consequently, shorter abbreviations are better than longer ones.
- It isn’t.
10. Modern DSS/BI/BPM/Whatever is forward-looking instead of just reporting on history. Is there an inherent danger in putting too much faith in these systems?
- Not more than putting too much faith in the CEO.
- Not if they work – which they will do once all the flaws are remedied.
- If it is, I am sure that someone will come up with a new abbreviation that will solve the problem.
If you have answered most questions which choice “A,” you can conveniently start your business intelligence initiatives. Mostly “B” answers means that you need to better define your business intelligence needs in terms of overall capacity. If you have mainly “C” answers, you should be able to aim for holistic BI with lots of BAM for the buck. And if you have answered “D” for any of the questions, you definitely need some BI in the company.