Vendors and analysts often talk about the need to make business intelligence (BI) process-centric. Despite this ongoing discussion, there is no clear definition of process-centric BI, and little has been written about its benefits compared to a data-centric approach. This situation gives me the opportunity to hopefully clarify matters by offering my perspective on this topic.

When designing and deploying IT applications, operational business transaction application developers have a different mind-set from BI developers. Business transaction developers define applications in terms of the business processes they manage, whereas BI developers view applications in terms of the data they handle and maintain. To understand why these different viewpoints exist and how they affect process-centric BI application development, we need to explore four types of IT applications and processing that support business operations - operational business transaction processing, collaborative processing, BI processing and business planning. Master data management is a fifth type of application processing, but for simplicity we will ignore this type in this discussion.

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