Wayne Eckerson, the director of Education and Research for The Data Warehousing Institute, opened the business intelligence (BI) strategies program at TDWI World Conference – Spring 2002 with a definition of business intelligence. "Business intelligence is the process, technologies and tools needed to turn data into information and information to knowledge and plans that drive profitable business action," said Eckerson. Using that as a springboard, he then turned the discussion to Howard Dresner, vice president and research director for Gartner, Inc. who originally coined the phrase business intelligence.

"The BI fact gap is a threat to business," Dresner stated. "The amount of data collected is growing dramatically, there are more people making decisions and we need to capitalize on the ability to harness the information we’re collecting. Because of the expectations of business intelligence, it is important to align with business users, but it is even more important to move beyond to take forward-thinking actions. This use of BI as a strategic tool is critical for companies. Most companies never get beyond alignment because they have to change the way they think and do business. They assume that if it worked for five years, why change now?"

Dresner predicted that in the next three to five years, collaborative BI will become a reality. Now it is external to BI, but it will be built into the context of the analytics and other applications and will result in shared models, annotations and workflows. He also said that business activity monitoring is in an emerging phase. "There is a lot of energy and excitement in this area, and a lot of learning will occur in the next few years. It is a critical part of moving BI to the next level – real insight will be delivered and alert notifications of situations that need to be addressed will be based on cross-domain operational tracking," said Dresner.

"This is a unique time to invest in BI strategically," Dresner concluded. "If you invest when it is slow, you will be in a better position to be effective when things turn around." He also noted that you should approach packaged BI as a complement to your organization’s strategy and take charge of your own destiny.

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