Business Intelligence Where Do We Stand Commerce Essay

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Abstract- Today real time information integration, real time application integration, real time data warehousing making the Business Intelligence (BI) more real and organizations are using it throughout the enterprise for different kind of analyses and decision making. In recent years BI emerged as a decision making tool of great importance for corporate community. Despite all the advancement in technology and the overwhelming acceptance of BI tools in enterprise world, human-computer interaction during strategic decision making process is still a question mark. This is so because BI-information flow is derived more from data models than by management oriented decision models. The rationale of this exploratory study is an amalgamation of fifteen research papers on current BI practices & advancements and identification of Non-BI factors which are of immense influence on decision-making as a first step towards modeling 'Management Decisions' and development of Real BI (RBI)tools.

Keywords: BI, business intelligence, Real Time BI, RtBI, RBI

1. Introduction

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Business Intelligence (BI) refers to skills, technologies, applications and practices used to help a business acquire a better understanding of its commercial context. Business Intelligence may also refer to the collected information itself.

In this paper section-1 gives the overview of introduction and current state of Business Intelligence. Current work on Business Intelligence practice, extracted from different research papers and different problem areas identified by the researchers have been discussed in section-2. Whereas, section-3 provides the overview of limitations, gaps, found in the papers. Solution to the research problem and future work has been pointed out in section-4. In section-5 and section-6, a conclusion statement and references hav been made respectively.

1.1 Traditional Business Intelligence (BI)

In 1958 IBM researcher Hans Peter Luhn used the term business intelligence. He defined intelligence as [16] "The ability to apprehend the interrelationships of presented facts in such a way as to guide action towards a desired goal."

In 1989 Howard Dresner (later a Gartner Group analyst) proposed BI as an umbrella term to describe "concepts and methods to improve business decision making by using fact-based support systems."[17]

It was not until the late 1990s that BI usage was widespread.

1.2 Real Time Business Intelligence (RtBI)

Real-time Business Intelligence (RtBI) [2] is the process of delivering information about business operations as they occur. In this context, real-time means a range from milliseconds to a few seconds after the business event has occurred. While traditional business intelligence presents historical data for manual analysis, real-time business intelligence compares current business events with historical patterns to detect problems or opportunities automatically. This automated analysis capability enables corrective actions to be initiated and or business rules to be adjusted to optimize business processes.

1.3 Future of BI

In the last decade or so, the BI has been adopted by major corporations of the world as a tool for informed decision making. A 2009 Gartner paper predicted these developments in business intelligence market[18]:

Because of lack of information, processes, and tools, through 2012, more than 35% of the top 5,000 global companies will regularly fail to make insightful decisions about significant changes in their business and markets.

By 2012, business units will control at least 40%of the total budget for business intelligence.

By 2010, 20% of organizations will have an industry-specific analytic application delivered via Software as a Service (SaaS) as a standard component of their business intelligence portfolio.

In 2010, collaborative decision making will emerge as a new product category that combines social software with business intelligence platform capabilities.

By 2012, one-third of analytic applications applied to business processes will be delivered through coarse-grained application mashups.

2. Literature Review

In this paper literature on current BI practices of fifteen published research papers have been reviewed and analyzed to find out grey areas and Non-BI factors affecting the decision making process.

2.1 Problem Area

Despite of brisk advancement in technology and acceptance of BI as a tool to decision making; strategic decision making is still a scantily defined process. It was recently pointed out [19] that several companies, despite making million-dollar investments in decision support technologies, still take a very haphazard approach to decision making. One of the reasons for low satisfaction with BI tools is that none provides a way for senior managers to make "intelligent" decisions on strategic matters. This is so, human behavior toward decision making and other Non-BI factors such as sociological, psychological, cultural, geographical are not aligned with current BI tools. The use of these factors in decision model can ensure achieving True Business Intelligence (TBI) through better decision making process. Following questions have been raised in the referred articles:

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George Lawton [1] has discussed the issue that how to make business intelligence more acceptable, cheap and useful. The research proposed that company's savvy teams to deploy the data warehouse and to create custom BI applications in order to make BI application more useful.

The limitations in traditional BI which hinders to achieve real time business intelligence have been explored [2]. Research stressed the need to automate the analytical layer which will perform real time analysis of possible solution and put up a most feasible solution for decisions. The business process will be changed in real time environment as per selected solution. The authors come up with a vision to seamlessly transform data into information into action. The challenge is to model the manual intervention presented in current system and automate both the flow of information from operational to tactical to strategic layer and actions necessary to translate strategic objectives back to operational drivers to affect strategic decision in real time [figure 2].

Figure 2: The vision of RtBI [2]

Hugh J. Watson and Barbara H Wixom [3] have raised questions regarding factors affecting successful implementation of BI in enterprise and how to overcome these limitations. Different factors effecting the implementation of BI application have been identified which could make BI a success story in any enterprise. BI success in any enterprise depends upon the senior management support, evolving the culture of using information and analytics, alignment of business strategies with BI strategies.

Different problems/limitations involved in traditional business intelligence application development have been identified by Supratim Dasgupta et al. [4]. As there are lots of implications involved in traditional BI application development, the agile methodology (SCRUM) can be of great help in developing and implementing BI applications.

Another investigation [5] has explored inabilities of traditional BI applications such as modeling of management decisions etc to help decision centric business intelligence. Traditional BI application does not support management decisions and are more inclined towards data than management model. Modeling 'Management Decision" in traditional BI has been proposed in order to convert traditional BI application to decision centric BI application.

SHI Changqiong et al. [6] exposed limitations of the traditional component based technology in the development of BI system with respect to real time web enabled business intelligence. Authors further extended the idea by discussing web as a medium for BI application and proposed a web based system research framework for BI application.

Dragoljub Krneta et al. [7] have spotted the complexities associated with development of BI applications and considered this fact a major hurdle in wide spread of BI at small enterprise level. As per author's point of view, developing BI application through a single tool provided by a single vendor has always been a hurdle in widespread of BI at small enterprise level. Strengths of SQL server 2008 and visual studio 2005, as a tool from Microsoft platform, can be of great help to develop modern world BI applications.

In order to ensure BI application a cost effective and easy to maintain solution, need of a comprehensive tool from a single vendor is pointed out by Zhijun Ren and Dongyun Wang [8].

Xu Xi and Xu Honggeng [9] have discussed current situation of business intelligence systems and related frame along with the data integration problem based on different data sources and structure. Research considered Oracle e-Business Suit 12 as a best tool available from a single vendor that answers all the challenges of BI application development and deployment.

Inabilities of traditional BI application to work on semi structured and unstructured data have been explored Li Niu and Gauangquan Zhang [10]. Traditional BI application does not map human intellect with the decision process. The research have discussed the limitation of traditional BI while handling non structured problem and proposed a cognition-driven process model for business intelligence based on Situation Awareness (SA) and Mental Models.

Improving human-computer interaction while decision making through BI application is a long missed part in traditional BI application. Another study [11] has discussed this area to improve the decision making process though BI application. The research focused on the same area and proposed a cognitive business intelligence system [figure 3] which closely integrates the Situation and past experiences with the BI applications.

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[Figure 3] Cognitive BI model [11]

Yujun Bao et al. [12] countered a problem that how to raise corporation's ability towards decision making by making BI application web based. In order to extend the interoperability, the BI application needs to be ported on web. The research [12] introduced system architecture of BI network based on web service to raise the decision making capabilities of corporations through Net of BI.

Ning Zhou et al. [13] have explored the reasons why BI applications are unable to handle non- structured or semi-structured data. Authors have high lighted that how BI application can be developed for non-structured data and discussed some bottlenecks in development of text driven BI applications. The research [13] has gone a step forward and have introduced and put forward a text driven Bi frameworks and its components for non- structured and semi-structured data and highlighted some core issues to be addressed for development of text based BI particularly in context of China.

Similarly another study by Harlod M. Campbell [14] investigated that functionality of traditional BI application can be extended/enhanced if knowledge management would be integrated. With out knowledge management integration with traditional BI application the decisions can't be portrayed as intelligent decisions. The research [14] proposed a model and ten principles to aid BI application with Knowledge Management.

Similarly Luan Ou and Hong Peng [15] pointed out some of limitations in traditional BI applications with respect to human-computer interaction and incorporation of knowledge management in BI applications. The research [15] proposed a knowledge and process based decision support in traditional BI application in which knowledge aids the BI application for more informed and timely decisions. Likewise a service resource based ontology framework has been proposed in a study [9] and construction method of service resource base.

3. Research Findings

Although all the researches highlighted the importance of BI in corporate community but many of them [1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9,12,13] have not discussed the non-BI factors affecting the widespread of BI in strategic decision making[Table-1]. Some of the researches [5, 10, 11, 15] have discussed the importance of knowledge management integration, human-computer interaction, in tradition BI to make it more decision centric but failed to point out a road map to identify or incorporate Non-BI factors into traditional BI applications. Different researches [10, 11, 15] have also come up with models, architectures for the purpose to align human-computer interaction while decision making. However, the factors other than knowledge management, having immense effect of intelligent decision making e.g. gut sense, past experience, collective wisdom, socio-economics and geographical data etc have not been discussed in the papers.

Sr#

Researcher

Problem

Solution

Limitation/weakness

1

George Lawton

Making Business Intelligence more useful

Companies to develop savvy team to deploy the data warehouse and to create custom BI applications.

- No analysis given in proof that "How this solution would be Cost affective?"

- Non-BI factors, which influence BI, are not discussed.

2

B Azvine et al.

Ho to automate analysis process in RtBI. What are the limitations in traditional BI which hinders to achieve RtBI

Analytical layer to be automated which will perform real time analysis of possible solution and put up a most feasible solution for decisions. The business process will be changed in real time environment as per selected solution

Non BI factors have not been touched

3

Hugh J. Watson

How can BI implementation be made a success in an enterprise?

Following factors are identified to make BI a success story in any enterprise:

i. Executive support

ii. Evolving the culture of using information and analytics.

iii. Alignment of business strategies with BI strategies

-Paper has not discussed the way to handle factors.

- Non-BI factors have not been touched

4

Supratim Dasgupta et al

Implications in traditional BI System development methodologies

Agile methodology (Scrum) for BI application development

- User may not be always available for Requirement Engineering.

- It is not easy to get feedback on every new release from customers spread along the glob.

5

Xue Fen et al

Inability of traditional BI application to help decision-centric businesses intelligence

Modeling 'Management Decision" in traditional BI

- Too short number of interviews conducted in the paper

6

SHI Changqiong et al

Limitations of the traditional component based technology in the development of BI system.

A framework of Web service based BI System is proposed

- Implementation of web-service based architecture is covered in a vague way.

- Non BI factors have not been discussed at all.

7

Dragoljub Krneta et al

Complexities, associated with development of BI applications as a major hurdle in wide spread of BI

Strengths of SQL server 2008 and visual studio 2005 are exposed as a tool from Microsoft platform to develop modern world BI applications.

- Microsoft toolset for BI application development have not been realized in a distributed environment.

- No attention has been paid towards the Non BI factors.

8

Zhijun Ren and Dongyun Wang

Identification of a tool from a single vendor for developing a BI application

The authors have discussed Oracle e-Business Suit 12 as a tool available from a single vendor that answers all the challenges of BI application development and deployment.

- The authors have not realized the tool on a real world solution - It was not pointed out that how Oracle suit 12 would handle the non-BI factors

9

Xu Xi and Xu Honggeng

Current situation of Business intelligence systems framework and data integration problem based on different data sources and structure.

A service resource based ontology framework has been proposed and construction method of service resource base has been realized

Non BI factors have not been catered for.

10

Li Niu and Gauangquan Zhang

Inability of BI application to solve unstructured problems.

Presented a cognition-driven process model for business intelligence based on Situation awareness and Mental Models.

- Model has not been realized on a real world application.

- Non BI factors have not been explored[Table-1]

[Table-1]

Sr#

Researcher

Problem

Solution

Limitations/weaknesses

11

Li Niu and Jie Lu et al

Improving human-computer interaction while decision making through BI application

Proposed a cognitive business intelligence system which closely integrate the Situation and past experiences with the BI application

- Model has not been realized.

- Only one Non-BI factor i.e. Past experience has been engaged in the model.

12

Yujun Bao et al

Raising of corporation's ability towards decision making

Introduces system architecture of BI network based on web service to raise the decision making capabilities of corporations through Net of BI

- Model has not been realized. Insufficient coverage of ERP, CRM etc.

- No Non-BI factors have been identified or discussed.

13

Ning Zhou et al

How BI application can be developed for non structured data and bottlenecks in development of text driven BI applications in china

The authors have introduced and put forward text driven BI frameworks and its components for non structured and semi structured data and highlighted some core issues to be addressed for development of text based BI.

- No attention has been paid that how the bottlenecks, identified in the paper, can be removed.

- Non BI factors have not been identified or discussed.

14

Harlod M. Campbell

How knowledge management can be integrated with BI application

Proposed a model and ten principles to aid BI application with Knowledge Management.

- Model is not verified / realized. - Non-BI factors have not been discussed.

15

Luan Ou and Hong Peng

How to remove limitations in traditional BI application

Proposed a knowledge and process based decision support in traditional BI application in which knowledge aids the BI application for more informed and timely decisions

-Implementation of the proposed model is not realized

- Non BI factors have not been touched.

4. Future Work

Some of the Non-BI factors have been identified in this paper. A model will be proposed in the next phase of the research to model management decisions and to map business intelligence, knowledge management, human intellect and other Non-BI function in traditional BI to develop a Real Business Intelligence.

5. Conclusion

In order to make informed decisions on any given situation or strategy, data driven BI applications are not enough. No matter to what extent the BI application are made easy to use, easy to configure, cost effective; Real Business Intelligence can't be achieved until non-BI factors involved in strategic decision making like human intellect, situational awareness, past experiences, collective wisdom, ground realities, socio-economic needs and gut sense etc are not aligned and modeled in BI tools to help executives make smart decisions.

This is a first step towards the realization of Real Business Intelligence which would align and bring more human-computer interaction.

A lot of research is needed in future to come up with a model which would easily map business intelligence, knowledge management, human intellect and other Non-

BI factors into BI application to achieve Real Business Intelligence [RBI].