July 16, 2012

Five different kinds of business intelligence

Having  recently categorized seven different kinds of database, let me now make a similar effort for business intelligence. To a first approximation, I’d like to split BI use cases into 2×2 = 4 groups, along two dimensions:

That could lead to the categories:

Those, in turn, could be more descriptively named:

To complete the list, I’ll add a fifth category, as explained below.

Notes on those categories include:

The problematic category in all this is traditional BI — i.e., BI that you sort of just look at and don’t do a whole lot with. In an actual categories graph, the “traditional BI” quadrant would be the lower left-hand lame one. So let’s soften that a bit and split traditional BI according to three kinds of user set:

Summing that all up — and subject as always to Monash’s Third Law of Commercial Semantics — I’ll go for now with a five-fold business intelligence split:

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8 Responses to “Five different kinds of business intelligence”

  1. Jay Jakosky on July 22nd, 2012 10:07 am

    Love your blog. Love this post.

    I wouldn’t call it traditional. It’s not heritage that perpetuates lame BI. And the explosion of new tools is not putting an end to lameness. I am regularly asked to build lame BI by customers that know better and don’t heed my advice.

    Politics leads to lame BI. Expose a KPI in a dashboard and if it goes the wrong direction someone gets blamed. Building the real-time or tactical BI to address the issue is someone else’s problem. Somehow this passes for “managing on results.”

    Wishful thinking or inexperience is another problem. People believe that having a dashboard at their fingertips, whenever, wherever, will improve management. This promise is what continues to sell lame BI. Hopefully they don’t run out of money or lose faith before getting the BI they really need.

    Data quality is a major problem. KPI’s are looking where the light is. To look at root cause in a tactical app requires that you have captured the cause. Real-time alerting requires that some actionable fact be available on a shorter timeframe than the KPI is measured, which is typically weeks, months or quarters.

  2. Lame!! | … and points beyond on July 24th, 2012 5:51 pm

    […] I’ve never stopped and considered what separates lame BI from quality BI. Curt Monash, in his excellent blog, DBMS2, identifies 2 axes of Business Intelligence: operational and root cause. Into the quadrants he fit […]

  3. Real-time confusion | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on November 5th, 2012 1:24 pm

    […] I recently proposed a 2×2 matrix of BI use cases: […]

  4. Walter Wartenweiler on January 19th, 2013 8:04 am

    In my opinion we are missing an additional category, BI in your app or how broader solutions can benefit from business intelligence functionality (Dashboards, drill-down, slice and dice, alerts, …) see here a broader explanation: http://www.iccube.com/biStories/vizMattersEndUsers/

  5. Curt Monash on January 19th, 2013 7:20 pm


    That sounds like what I called “tactical”.

  6. The two sides of BI | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on August 14th, 2013 1:29 am

    […] of technology, discussions of BI can get confused. I’ve remarked in the past that there are numerous kinds of BI, and that the very origin of the term “business intelligence” can’t even be […]

  7. Which analytic technology problems are important to solve for whom? | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on April 12th, 2015 11:47 pm

    […] or general communication. Sometimes the purpose is lost to history entirely. This is generally lame, at least technically, unless interesting requirements are […]

  8. Some checklists for making technical choices | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on February 15th, 2016 11:27 am

    […] July, 2012 categorization of kinds of BI is particularly […]

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