Business Intelligence – what is going on in this market?

On Quora I was asked to answer this question…
What are most suitable business intelligence solutions for a high growth SaaS company?
See the whole conversation here…

Here's my answer…

There is a shift going on. In fact there are several. And there is a big question to answer – what are you going to do with the intelligence when you get it?

Shift 1: Big IT to App. Now that IT basically works, we can see just how much complexity we built into first generation systems. We no longer need developers to connect systems and customisation is a simple drag and drop thing. Of course an SaaS company will know this – they are benefitting from it. But big complex BI solutions with stand-alone Data Warehouses etc. are a thing of the past.

Shift 2: Process. The silo creating ERP type system is a thing of the past. We have seen how industries like travel, logistics and retail have been disrupted by customer-focused, process driven e-commerce systems. This customer driven process is the only way forward. It forces the rest of the company to think customer and think process. Visualise this…
The standard company organisation chart has CEO at the top and everyone else below in a triangle. Turn that triangle upside down. You now have customers flowing across the top of an organisation with the company people who interact with them as the top level of the company. Everything else is a support service.
Now you can see how wrong your systems and processes are.

Shift 3: Data driven decisions. Business Intelligence was designed as an add-on, to drag data out of reluctant systems and put it in a form where trends etc. could be seen. But a process does this natively. Every action creates a trail and you can drill down to see what is going on, create dashboards and reports on trends etc. You can then adopt a simple "biggest problem first" approach to continuously improve your process and your business.
But you can go further. The Happy Path can expand from 80% to 99%, with fewer exceptions which need manual intervention. Any repeated decision can be automated with decision criteria etc.

Shift 4: Communities. Business Intelligence systems are designed to take your own data. But businesses are actually a collection of collaborating companies – component suppliers, service providers, sales partners, advisors. A modern data system links all of these in the cloud, to create an end to end view of what is happening. Your intelligence has to go beyond your company.

What to do with the intelligence?
We still live in the first generation of people who have encountered data. People still believe they can make better decisions than the machine. But the evidence is beginning to become overwhelming that this is not the case. Yes, there are errors, mostly caused by people not realising the unintended consequences or devising the system with too few data points, but systems can outperform people for almost all tasks.
So the intelligence should inform the creation of an intelligent system, not simply fancy graphs for people to talk about at meetings. My view is that 90% of BI sales are ego-driven in this manner and not actually useful to the corporation. The companies mentioned in the question are not true Business Intelligence companies, just pretty graph makers.

Can I choose none of the above. 
Get your processes sorted and the data intelligence will be there. Then create decision processes to go with them. All you then need is an overview to see where intervention may be required and to flag up opportunities outside the scope of the systems.


What do you think?

PeterJ42Business Intelligence – what is going on in this market?