As business intelligence (BI) evolves from recounting the past to forecasting the future, unstructured information and enterprise search capabilities move to center stage. The statement that business intelligence today "predicts" the past is an often-used joke because classic BI forecasting consists of taking a few historic data points, drawing a straight line through them and extending it out into the future. However, to deliver true business value, business intelligence processes and technology must do more. The requirement to leverage business intelligence to surface new trends, emerging customer preferences, product availability, financial dynamics and staff development is critical both to operational as well as enterprise decision-making.
Much of business intelligence today remains reactive, even when tools provide real-time access to information. For example, if an enterprise has real-time data indicating it is out of stock on a hot item, all that can be done is to order and wait. Depending on the length of the supply chain and whether the truck gets stuck in traffic - an event that is also in real time - real time does not guard against lost sales. Sometimes even real time is too late.
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