The first in a series of posts introducing the concepts and messages of my forthcoming book, "Business unIntelligence--Insight and Innovation Beyond Analytics and Big Data", available in mid-October.
The term business intelligence
has long struck me as something of an oxymoron. Much of the business behavior I've encountered has been far from intelligent. Perhaps I'm a little cynical, but business dysfunction
often seemed a more appropriate term. Furthermore, intelligence is surely setting the bar far too low today in the second decade of the 21st century; BI, in practice, too often means little more than generating reports filled with backward-looking data. Can't business do better? What about intuition, insight or inspiration? Should we not also consider social aspects, given that business is largely a collective, collaborative venture?
I played with many positive-tinged terms in search of a title for my book. But none had the breadth of vision I desired; many had already been appropriated by marketing. I introduced the term Business Integrated Insight (BI2)
way back in 2009 in a Teradata
-sponsored white paper
. It was a brave move for a company that is synonymous with the data warehouse, given that the main thrust of the paper was that data warehousing was in need of a major rethink as operational and informational business needs were converging. The name BI2
didn't stick. But, the ideas did, and the emergence of big data since then has confirmed what I said earlier: we need to start thinking more holistically about the information resource of the enterprise.
Since then, technologies have evolved--Hadoop, for example--and business priorities have shifted further. Operational analytics drives operational and informational systems ever closer. Collaborative working is finally taking hold in BI. Cloud and Mobile reiterate the importance of a service oriented approach to process.
By late 2012, it was clear to me that the book must begin from what is wrong with how business is today and how to fix it. Simply put, business isn't making enough use of all the information potentially at its disposal. Decisions are poorly understood, never tracked and unrelated to any clear idea of process. Psychological and sociological underpinnings are ignored. Clearly, this is unintelligent behavior by business. Business unIntelligence
On first encounter, this may sound like a negative phrase. But slowly, gradually, it also became clear that Business unIntelligence is precisely what business today needs in order to benefit from extensive information, adaptive process and the strengths of actual people. Rationality of thought and far beyond it. Logic of process, predefined and emergent. The confluence of reason and inspiration, emotion and intention, collaboration and competition--all that comprises the human and social milieu that is business. Not business intelligence. But Business unIntelligence. Insight and Innovation beyond Analytics and Big Data.
I will be exploring the themes and messages of the book over the coming weeks, beginning with a key concept: the biz-tech ecosystem
. You can pre-order the book on Amazon
; it should be available in mid-October. In the interim, check out Thomas Frisendal's in-depth review
. I will be speaking on the topic at a number of webinars and conferences. For starters, check out my presentation at the BrightTALK Business Intelligence and Big Data Analytics Summit
, live on September 12th.