I recently returned from IDS-Scheer's latest ProcessWorld conference in Florida, an event I always look forward to - I've attended this meeting each of the past five years. It's a gathering I would recommend to readers of DM Review and BI Review looking for a refreshing perspective to the data-focused world we live in. While I spend the bulk of my time tackling issues related to information management, the process approach to business intelligence - or vice versa - has always closed a pragmatic loop for me, because modeling business processes as a starting point is the least abstracted approach to optimizing the way businesses work. In the most simplistic chart, the process-centric approach tends to be top down, while data centric is often bottom up.The process-first focus has plenty of relevance for BI practitioners today because of the operational emphasis that has arisen in the last many months. IDC was the first market research firm to grasp this trend at its own conferences. That was a couple of years ago, about the same time BI Review ran its first story on elevating data into business processes that were not just back-office automated, but addressed human-to-human and human-to-system workflows. You have to look for these stories, many of the organizations doing this kind of work don't want to talk about it since it touches more than a few proprietary and competitive buttons.

But it is safe to say that much of the data community prefers to steer wide of the process topic by and large. The biggest conferences are still largely data-centric, and the largest market research firm we know still segregates its BI and process events. Now that the weaknesses of tactical and operational business intelligence have been exposed, that mistake may not last long into the future.

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