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Business Intelligence 2.0 and Enterprise Decision Management

I have been reading a few things on "BI 2.0" and it made me wonder about the phrase and about the differences, or similarities, between BI 2.0 and EDM. I know Charles Nicholls of SeeWhy and read his nice little eBook. You may have seen SeeWhy in this Computerworld article or this ebizQ one (complete with a podcast).

I poked around and read a little about Celequest (with whom I have met) and Neil Raden's nice article "Bye-bye BI" in Intelligent Enterprise. I also read Charles' blog (though he has been quiet of late) and Diaz's (similarly sparse). Finally there was the classic research approach now taught in elementary school - I googled it.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that there seems no broad agreement on what BI 2.0 is, though there are some characteristics that many people think it has. While these overlap with Enterprise Decision Management somewhat they are not the same and I think it is worth exploring it the similarities and differences a little.

First, let's see what the widely discussed BI 2.0 characteristics might look like:

  • BI 2.0 integrates events
    The inclusion of events as something to be tracked, analyzed and used is widely agreed. We see discussions of "event-driven BI" to analyze streams of data, keep running totals without an intermediate storage mechanism.
  • BI 2.0 delivers insight
    The need to deliver insight not information or reports comes up a fair bit - the idea that events or data are not interesting but insights derived from them, especially insights derived rapidly, are.
  • BI 2.0 delivers action without intervention
    Several mentions of a more automated handling of the consequences of insight - the idea of taking corrective action without human intervention.
  • BI 2.0 is Real-time
    Probably the single most agreed feature - all of this must be in real-time or close to it. There is a lot of talk about reducing all aspects of latency close to zero
  • BI 2.0 is based on SOA and Web 2.0
    Like most things new BI 2.0 is expected to be service-based and Web 2.0 technologies are expected to impact the UI for BI 2.0

Much of this seems similar to discussions of operational BI. For instance, Neil Raden describes operational BI in his article:

"Operational BI or, more accurately, operational analytics, must be as lightweight and configurable as services. Grabbing a piece of historical data from a data warehouse, aligning it with current information from an operational process, perhaps dynamically generating a forecast based on trend analysis or even a stochastic process like Monte Carlo Simulation to produce a range of outcomes--all these activities must happen transparently and in near-real time. "

What we see is a focus on what you might call intelligent processes - ones where actual events drive responses in real time that rely on analysis of both data and events, particularly predictive analysis. Now both Celequest and SeeWhy seem to be taking what I would call an Enterprise Decision Management or EDM approach. The Celequest website explicitly talks about their server being implemented using a mix of analytics and business rules while SeeWhy must have some capability to execute rules to decide which alerts to send/actions to take when its real-time analytics come up with predictions that need responses. That said, they are also both focused on event-driven decisioning rather than "in-process" decisioning.

So how does BI 2.0 compare with EDM? Well EDM is likewise focused on delivering and acting on insight, often in real-time. EDM is service-oriented with its focus on decision services. Where they differ is really in three areas:

  • EDM is a balance between analytic insight and explicit knowledge/regulations.
    BI 2.0 seems to be more focused on the analytic insight piece with rules (knowledge, regulations) relegated to a secondary position
  • EDM separates out the business decision-making completely from the context
    This allows decisions to be reused in processes, legacy systems, in response to an event etc. BI 2.0 seems very focused on event-based triggers to the exclusion of other kinds of decisioning.
  • EDM is focused on decisions as a corporate asset
    BI 2.0 is not.

I have blogged before about CEP(Complex Event Processing) and BAM (Business Activity Monitoring), both of which seem BI 2.0-related. In each case I believe that the decisions need to be externalized and managed so they can be used and maintained and improved independently. Let's end with another quote from Neil:

"Facing a global, externalized business environment, leading organizations must push beyond conventional BI and data-warehousing approaches and seek adaptable, agile solutions"

I think the products focusing on BI 2.0 are some of what you need for these "adaptable, agile solutions" but I think EDM is needed too.

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