CONFUSING TERMINOLOGY: pt1 – Business Intelligence
Last week I logged into a really good webinar entitled Ten Changes to Maximize the Impact of Your BI Strategy by Gartner analyst Kurt Schlegel. I found it to be well worth the hour spent on it (perhaps because most of his opinions seem to parallel mine) and have recommended it to a number of folks. Mr. Schlegel made one point, in passing, that got me thinking about how we, as BI professionals, seem to go out of our way to confuse the business community about what we do.
For just a minute, try to put yourself into the shoes of a BI consumer or prospect. In particular, try to forget the concepts of business intelligence, data warehouses, reporting systems, etc.
Now, consider the term ‘Business Intelligence’. What does it really mean? Once you get yourself past the standard, glib comment, “Oh, that’s an oxymoron isn’t it?”, what do you think of? Hmmmm, could it be something like spying? Could it be something like gathering intelligence about the business environment?
My point is, your first thought isn’t going to be business performance measurement (BPM) systems. However, BPM is probably about 90% of what we do in the BI field. Sure, Business Intelligence has a sexy, almost James Bondian ring to it but is it very descriptive? Not at all.
We Were DSS Once… And Young
For those who haven’t been around for very long, keep in mind that Business Intelligence wasn’t the first name for what we do. Before BI was DSS, or Decision Support Systems (yes, that’s the reason why MicroStrategy’s product used to be called DSS Agent).
Stepping back even further, does anyone still remember EIS, Executive Information Systems? Same concept, different name (and BTW, for real trivia, MicroStrategy used to sell a product called EIS Toolkit)
In a lot of ways, these old terms are just as good, and maybe even better, at describing to users what this whole field is about.
So, what’s the takeaway? Well, the folks who need business intelligence largely don’t think in terms of business intelligence. They think in terms that fit their world. Terms like business performance reporting or, even better, inventory optimization reporting OR sales force performance reporting OR sales margin analysis…
So, if you want folks to buy in to your concepts, don’t lean on our industry-speak. Talk in terms that your target consumer understands,
Do you have any ideas on terminology that just confuses the business community? How about anything else we do to shoot ourselves in the foot / collective feet? Let me know.