1 September 2009
Dr. Moria Levy
The term 2.0 is taking over our lives. It all started with Tim Oreille inventing, together with the convention company the term WEB2.0 way back in 2004. The term is meant to express optimism regarding overcoming the crisis the whole DOT COM world experienced following the bubble bursting. And indeed, new wind did blow then and still blows now. We rose from the recession and flourished (and hopefully continue to do so). It took time for the term to catch on, but from 2007 on it certainly became one of the more popular terms. I personally receive many invitations to lecture on the subject.
During the second half of 2006, people began talking about KM2.0. The connection is clear: WEB views the extra-organizational world; Knowledge Management views the intra-organizational world. The methodological principles of WEB2.0 are substantially compatible with the familiar principles of KM: the centrality of the user who shares and contributes knowledge. KM personnel were jealous (and in my opinion, rightfully so) of the success of WEB2.0; and how do many people create and share knowledge without being requested to do so. It is noteworthy point out that KM personnel have been trying to reach this goal for years and have been investing substantial effort in these attempts. The analogy seemed natural. Yet lately we are witnessing an expansion of this phenomenon. Nearly every field related to computers is embracing the desired suffix: 2.0. And so is the world of Business intelligence. I introduce to you, BI2.0.
So, what is BI2.0 and what do clients benefit from it?
There are two different schools of thought regarding the definition of BI2.0. Some define it as a leap forwards from the current situation, regardless of the essence of the change to WEB2.0. Just like WEB leaped forward, so did we. Others view the nature of the WEB2.0 change compared to WEB1 and also deduce the type of advance. Let's break it down:
The first approach regards BI2.0 as a leap forward, mainly technologically: IDC regard BI2.0 as "decision-centric BI". By this they refer to BI centered on decision making. The definition is somewhat vague, since this is the core purpose of BI: supporting deciding operational, tactical and strategic decisions, whether by receiving notification of deviations or as part of an analysis/forecasting process. Where is this leap? The commentators explain: focusing BI on following business events; positioning the decision closer to real time; using SOA technology and other WEB2.0 technologies. Here, the main innovation becomes clear. No more relying on an information centre that may be updated monthly, weekly or daily. Rather, receiving information which is more business-oriented and accessible. BI2.0 technology will allow this as part of the Mainstream.
It is noteworthy to point out that Gartner also relate to up and coming technological innovations in the world of BI (an interactive visual interface, memory analysis, incorporating BI into searches, BI as a service and SOA) but don't refer to these innovations as BI2.0. Another list in this context that exists as the definition of BI2.0 is innovations in the following fields: performance management; integrative planning; operational BI and BI incorporated into systems (which are both connected); BI portals; performance environment and integration into Office; searching and sharing BI; advanced visualization techniques; advanced analytical forecasting tools; BI as a service; open code for BI; organizational integration of data; obscure data; MDM,; products avoce the DW and BI; Excellence centers for BI and merging data.
This indeed suits the definition: a collection of innovations of different sorts packaged collectively as BI2.0.
The second approach regards BI2.0 as the implementer of the principles of WEB2.0:
This approach discusses the centrality of the user in the BI environment. The innovations here are related to the simplicity of the usage (and there are many contradicting interpretations of this seemingly simple term); to a wide approach to varied information (also outside the database); to search abilities using standard search tools; to sharing over data. BI2.0, according to one opinion, will not substitute traditional BI; it will complete it. Traditional BI will remain a central tool for analysts while the new approach will enable overcoming the "unpredictable", that which is situated outside the world of databases, outside of the world of regular inquiries and interrogation. According to another opinion, the purpose of BI2.0 which enables simplicity is to enable the awaited BI for the masses (i.e. all layers of the organization).
Spoon feeding most users. Prepared environments.
Expensive sophisticated tools.
Some real time applications (credit cards and plane booking as main examples).
An organized database and a single truth as a basis for analysts work.
There is no analytical interrogation of the operational systems.
Information must sit in an organized database in order for it to be analyzed.
Simple tools which enable people to search independently and perform a Mash-up.
Pressure by the market to prefer simple technology for the masses rather overt functionality.
A demand for fresh information from many resources in real time.
Incorporating content from different sources as a partial substitute for a database. Instead of a single truth-context (when each item is appropriate) and complex information (since there is no single truth)
No reason not to interrogate. Interrogations will be performed using SOA.
Various temporary sources of information.
Raden also regards the integration and differentiation between different users: no more analysts versus manager versus simple user. Everyone is a bit of both.
Regardless of the approach we choose, it is clear to everyone that BI in its new form is wider and the difference between it and other fields is becoming distorted. Nearly everyone dealing with BI2.0 is dealing simultaneously with testing the boundaries differentiating BI from EDM (Enterprise Decision Management); between BI and BPM (Note: I am referring to Business Performance Management and Business Process Management); between BI and CPM (Corporate Performance Management); between BI and CEP (Complex Event Management); and between BI and BAM (Business Activity Monitoring). My feeling is that there were indeed many different fields, which each had its uniqueness, but at the end of the day they will all be consolidated into one common field. It will take time, since all experts in the field still proclaim the uniqueness of their field. To a bystander who reads the emphases and differences, it seems like a bunch of subtleties which are insignificant compared to the vast common denominator.
Where are we headed to? I believe that before we reach simplicity and user-centrality, we will have to go through another phase of technological upgrade that will raise more possibilities and more abilities and will thus distance us from simplicity. The "rebellious" stage of returning to simplicity (such as the Google interface) will come in time, but probably only as a later phase. We probably need to reach the edge in order for us to understand that we have overdone the whole technological phase. It seems that the "technological leap forward" approach will come before the "user centrality" approach. The road to BI2.0, according to the second approach, which is focused on essence, is long ahead. We have many miles to go before we even reach this road. Do not despair. With much patience, we will eventually reach there.