Business Intelligence Emerges From Decision Support
Although there were some earlier usages, business intelligence (BI) as it’s understood today evolved from the decision support systems (DSS) used in the 1960s through the mid-1980s. Then in 1989, Howard Dresner (a former Gartner analyst) proposed “business intelligence” as an umbrella term to describe “concepts and methods to improve business decision-making by using fact-based support systems.” In fact, Mr. Dresner is often referred to as the “father of BI.” (I’m still trying to identify and locate the “mother of BI” to get the full story.)
The more modern definition provided by Wikipedia describes BI as “a set of techniques and tools for the acquisition and transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes.” To put it more plainly, BI is mainly a set of tools or a platform focused on information delivery and typically driven by the information technology (IT) department. The term “business intelligence” is still used today, although it’s often paired with the term “business analytics,” which I’ll talk about in a minute.
Along Came Enterprise Performance Management
In the early 1990s, the term “business performance management” started to emerge and was strongly associated with the balanced scorecard methodology. The IT industry more readily embraced the concept around 2003, and this eventually morphed into the term “enterprise performance management” (EPM), which according to Gartner “is the process of monitoring performance across the enterprise with the goal of improving business performance.” The term is often used synonymously with corporate performance management (CPM), business performance management (BPM), and financial performance management (FPM).
You may be aware of risks and problems in your own business, but increasingly it’s possible to be exposed to issues by other organizations that you deal with, particularly if you’re buying in IT services.
How can enterprises deal with these threats and ensure that their data and that of their customers is kept safe at all stages of the supply chain? We spoke to Dean Coleman, head of service delivery at service management and support specialist Sunrise Software, to find out.
BN: How difficult is it for larger organizations to manage problems that might occur further down the supply chain?
DC: It can be quite difficult, historically most organizations have a handle on risk in terms of what’s going on in the business, financial targets and so on. But when it comes to IT risks and the supply chain providing IT they don’t have the same visibility. These days IT is everywhere and businesses depend on it so IT problems have a larger impact. The understanding of risk needs to be something that key decision makers are more aware of.
BN: Is this a particular problem when dealing with smaller companies who might not have resources in house?
DC: Yes, from the supplier side of the fence we see that smaller organizations often don’t have the skills in house to deal with security, infrastructure, and so on. They rely heavily on these services but don’t see them as a core part of their business. Because they don’t have the skills and resources they will often turn to third parties to manage these things for them. However, in some cases the third parties also don’t do a very good job, they’ll be providing reactive services rather than the proactive ones that are really needed to predict problems based on risk.