The heart of active business intelligence (BI) is the challenge of making information actionable. When information is displayed by BI systems, users should understand the information within their business situation and take the appropriate action based on that information. If there is no action, then there is no business benefit derived from the information.

What are the factors in making information actionable? The answer involves the concept of action distance, which is the distance (broadly defined) between the set of information generated by the BI system and the set of actions appropriate to a specific business situation. Figure 1 illustrates this concept by showing a business situation in which an information set is separated from an action set by some distance.

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