While the business intelligence (BI) sector has spent a lot of time honing the mechanics of generating numbers -the terms ETL (extract, transform and load), OLAP, data warehouse, query and reporting easily roll off the tongue of a BI practitioner - how users consume the information has received short shrift.

This is not an easy area to study. Experts still only vaguely understand how workers make decisions. This means the area is rife with "softness," compared to the satisfyingly hard facts of BI. However, as enterprises get better at generating numbers, they are realizing that how well - or poorly - workers consume and share the numbers is the new challenge.

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