BI Paths Old and New

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I rang up Howard Dresner last week to get a preview of his next wisdom of crowds business intelligence poll that just went online. Howard’s been back at primary market research for a couple of years now as head of his of his own consultancy, and we’ve kept an eye on his open-ended studies ever since.

It was also a follow up to last week’s entry on where the politics of marketing and internal sales had left the fate of the term “business intelligence.”

For anyone who just dropped from the sky, Howard is often credited with coining the term ‘business intelligence’ during his long tenure at Gartner Inc. In any case, he founded and hosted Gartner’s BI practices and conferences up until his 2005 departure for a chief strategy role at Hyperion that he left two years later when Oracle snapped them up.

Twenty-some years after the term originated, Howard is still working the business intelligence field but not clinging to the boundaries that were circumstantially present at the get go, before the hardware and software developments we have today were ever imagined.

“When I look back at that, the whole idea of business intelligence was an umbrella term meant to connote fact-based analysis using facts as perspective,” he said. “Maybe it didn't start off that way, but it did evolve that way with end users accessing and analyzing, as it was, time-structured data and now it's moving beyond that.”

The essential components then, he says, were a human being, some data and the ability to turn the data into perspective to make better decisions.

And when it comes to semantics, we agreed that while marketers are doing their thing to get above the incredible noise in the market right now, others are looking for terms that are digestible inside their organizations also, and that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

So while vendors launch trial balloons with relevant timely terms, “analytics,” “business discovery” or “visualization” with more or less relevance to the item at hand, I’d like to know more about the way companies manage this verbiage psychology and internally.

I was reading through the titles in our Top 25 lists and the many other information managers I’ve encountered and would like to look into the titular psychology of how and why someone does become a “director of business intelligence,” versus a “BI metrics owner” versus a “director/evangelist and chief BI architect and performance/process analysis leader.” (It’s also possible this might start to lean departmentally, especially toward marketing and other customer related functions.)

There’s got to be some semantics and politics behind those words on the business cards, and I know Howard is collecting titles in his work also. Send along your favorites below, and the ones (the boardroom eye rollers) you think we should avoid and I’ll check back with you later.

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