E-business involves sharing information across organizational and IT-system barriers. For instance, support personnel serve a customer best when informed by information from sales and service systems. Furthermore, answering analytic questions like, "Who are my most profitable customers?" requires data from several systems. Hence, data integration across disparate IT systems is a requirement for e-business.

In the electronic economy of e-business, data is a valuable asset that should be analyzed so that an organization can improve its efficiency and effectiveness. Therefore, most applications and information systems in an e-business should include an analytic component that contributes to business intelligence tasks by leveraging the digital flow of information.

THE HURWITZ TAKE: The confluence of data integration and business intelligence constitutes a kind of "intelligration" for electronic business. An organization achieves intelligration by integrating IT systems so users can share data or collaborate, as well as by collecting a broad range of information into appropriate data structures for analysis, reporting, searching or mining.

Intelligration is especially crucial to customer-centric e- businesses. The integration half helps draw a complete picture of a customer whose data may be strewn across disparate systems for order entry, sales force automation, shipping and so forth. The intelligence half helps farm the customer base for purposes of retention, cross-selling and up-selling.

Intelligration is also crucial to companies that mix brick-and-mortar with e- commerce. The Web-based, front-end sales and service components must integrate with back-end inventory, order processing and other delivery mechanisms. With commerce conducted electronically, an organization can capture and analyze customer behavior data to guide sales and marketing efforts.

However, intelligration is more than IT systems. It assumes that the corporate culture is customer-driven, prepared for nimble changes and open to sharing information across organizational units. Intelligration demands that most business tasks be performed digitally which may mean significant changes in business practices, such as traditionally paper-laden processes like the supply chain.

Hurwitz Group recommends that a company transitioning to e-business make its IT systems and organizational practices conducive to intelligration - it is well worth the effort. Intelligration can increase top-line revenue through enhanced customer service and analytic leveraging of customer data. Intelligration can also decrease costs to improve the bottom line.

For more information about the relationship between business intelligence and Hurwitz Group's e-Business Integration Model, see the poster "e-Business Intelligence" (sponsored by IBM) in the October, 1999 issue of DM Review.

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