The business intelligence (BI) process at its best consists of envisioning a response that creates the possibility of business value through working smarter for an enterprise and tracing that through the labyrinth of information sources, system interfaces and transformations of meaning undergone by the data, resulting in delivery of that value. Oftentimes, the business value envisioned requires surfacing, formulating or aggregating answers to questions of the form, "What customer is buying or using what product or service? When and where are they doing so?" Process is a coordination concept; the BI process coordinates the key terms in this question. Of course, this can occur in 1,001 different variations and extends to all imaginable corporate entities, such as employees, suppliers, documents (e.g., invoices), events (e.g., deliveries) and whatever drives your business. In every case, the critical path to BI lies through building a consistent unified representation of customers, products and other essential corporate data entities.

In short, business intelligence is now an essential part of every business process and deserves to be acknowledged as such. In order to understand how and why BI is now a priority process, having a high-level schema for organizing business processes will be useful. Fortunately, one of the most concise and powerful schemas is available in the work of Peter G. W. Keen.1 This framework distinguishes the following four fundamental processes:

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