Want to know what Forrester's lead data analysts are thinking about BI and the data domain?

By Boris Evelson

What is BI? There are two prevailing definitions out there – broad and narrow. The broad definition (using our own) is that BI is a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information used to enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational insight and decision-making. But if we stick to this definition then shouldn’t we include data integration, data quality, master data management, data warehousing and portals in BI? I know lots of folks would disagree and fit these into data management or information management segments, but not BI.

Then, the narrow definition is used when referring to just the top layers of the BI architectural stack such as reporting, analytics and dashboards. But even there, as Jim Kobielus and I discovered as we were preparing to launch our BI TechRadar 2010 research, we could count over 20 (!) product categories such as Advanced Analytics, Analytical Performance Management, Scorecards, BI appliances and BI SaaS, BI specific DBMS, BI Workspaces, Dashboards, Geospatial analytics, Low Latency BI, Metadata Generated BI Apps, Non modeled exploration and In-memory analytics, OLAP, Open Source BI and SaaS BI, Packaged BI Apps, Process / Content Analytics, Production reports and ad-hoc query builders, Search UI for BI, Social Network / Media Analytics, Text analytics, Web Analytics.

 

To make matters worse, some folks out there are now trying to clearly separate BI and analytics, by trying to push a “core, traditional BI is commoditized, analytics is where differentiation is today” message. Hmmm, I thought I was building analytical apps using OLAP starting back in the early 80’s.

 

Funny how it seems easier to define what BI is not than to define what BI is – isn’t it? Hence, this is precisely the objective and the title of our planned BI tweet jam “What BI is Not.”  Join us on May 13th, 2010, from 2-3pm ET. Joining me will be my colleagues Jim Kobielus (@jameskobielus), Gene Leganza (@gleganza), Leslie Owens (@owens5), Holger Kisker (@hkisker), and Noel Yuhanna (@nyuhanna).

 

Here are some of the questions we’ll address:

 

  • Do you prefer the broad or the narrow definition of BI? Should ETL, DQ, DW, MDM be considered part of BI?
  • How should we differentiate BI and analytics?
  • What’s the difference between business intelligence and other forms of “intelligence” like competitive intelligence, market intelligence?
  • Is convergence of structured and unstructured information hype or reality?
  • Is BI looking only through the rear-view mirror, or should historical and predictive BI be one and the same?
  • How will social media impact traditional BI?

 

We’d love to hear if there are any other questions or issues you think we should cover. To join the conversation, tune in to the #dmjam hashtag on twitter, or follow the analysts above.

Hope to see you there!