Gartner's Business Intelligence (BI) Summit took place in Chicago this past March and, judging by the attendance and many of the standing-room only presentations, it looks like BI is still a very hot topic. In fact, Gartner called business intelligence "white hot." Though the topics varied, there was a pretty specific theme from the Gartner presenters: business process-based BI.I have written about the marriage of operational customer relationship management (CRM) and analytical CRM (see "Worlds Collide" in the November 2005 issue of DM Review), and Gartner is seeing the same trend across all corporate functions. The analysts often pick a speculative, super-strategic trend, but in this case, I think Gartner's comments are very practical. Based on the mega-theme, some subtopics surfaced:

CPM was definitely an overall hot topic at the BI Summit. Leveraging CPM technology to align corporate behavior struck a chord with me. Using scorecards and metrics to help track strategy and align employees' activities is not that new. But typically this is a yearly process where metrics are reviewed, the new strategy is committed and employees get a new version of the dashboard. The interesting conversation at the BI Summit was much more tactical and spoke to helping an organization become more nimble and adaptable to change. SAP gave one of the best descriptions of this concept by example, which showed the executive management team making a decision to increase ROI. The hypothesis is that your average employee does not understand how he can personally influence ROI. The idea of a cascading set of customized metrics, scorecards and dashboards that communicates individually to each function, team and person what the necessary levers are for them to positively impact the strategy, changes in strategy or changes in tactics is ideal. Through a hierarchy of metrics, corporate behavior and goals can be consistently aligned.

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