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Beyond BI - Bill gets it (mostly) right...

CIO Insight and eWeek covered a recent memo from Bill Gates on "Beyond BI". As I often talk about EDM being "Beyond BI" I thought I would make a couple of comments on his memo.

"The impact on the workforce is remarkable. Productivity is higher than it's ever been. Buyers can shop the entire world without leaving their desk. Sellers have access to markets that were once beyond reach. The amount of information collected about customers, competitors and markets is unprecedented...."That makes solving information overload/underload a critical task. Fortunately, a new generation of technology innovations is opening the door to solutions that will make it dramatically easier to find relevant information quickly; to use that information to drive intelligent decision-making; "

Well here I completely agree with Bill (I'm sure he'll be delighted to know that) as EDM is all about using technology (business rules, predictive analytics) to drive "intelligent decision-making". I do think that many folks over-estimate the value of making more information available. No matter how easy you make it to consume the information you still assume that the person is able to put it in context and use it. For instance, no matter how clever I get in presenting information about the value of a customer to someone in a call center, I still need to help them put this in context and decide how it should change their interaction with that customer. I call this the "so what" problem:

  • My call center reps know how profitable each customer is when they call.
    So what? Does this change the cross-sell offer, the rules about letting them off charges or what?
  • My doctor has an electronic medical record of my entire history
    So what? Is she going to make a different treatment decision because of it? Will she have the time to read it all or be able to spot the crucial piece?
  • My insurance agent knows what natural disasters my house it at risk of
    So what? Is he going to know how to change my risk-based premium as a result?

Making information more readily available can be important but making better decisions based on it is what pays the bills. Bill goes on to say:

"Resolving the information overload and underload problem will take more than just better search tools. What's required is a comprehensive approach to enterprise information management that spans information creation, collection and use and helps ensure that organizations can unlock the full value of their investments in both information and people"

Well yes, but there must also be ways to turn this better information into better decisions and thus better outcomes. Better informed organizations do not perform better automatically - they perform better if they can make better decisions with that information.

Good start Bill...

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