The Future of Business Intelligence: Did Gartner Get It Right?

Posted on August 20, 2009


On Friday’s segment “Beyond Business Intelligence Technology: The Importance of Domain Expertise” I will be welcoming Oco’s CEO William (Bill) Copacino who has authored 3 books and more than 150 articles on supply chain management, to discuss the transformational changes that are redefining our understanding of Business Intelligence.

The level of preparation that goes into every PI Window on Business broadcast is commensurate with the desire to somehow provide a unique lens through which a particular subject can be viewed as well as understood.  Preparing for a discussion on Business Intelligence (BI) however, is similar to talking about the weather in that we all have a basic understanding of what it means, and a general perception as to how it works.  To be more specific, while interesting it is not likely to deliver some earth shattering news.  Or so you would think.

Without a doubt, Bill Copacino’s academic and literary accomplishments, which has garnered him accolades as one of the world’s leading consultants, authors and practitioners in the area of supply chain management, in and of itself provides the makings for a terrific interview.  That notwithstanding and viewing BI through the combination of both a historical and forward looking lens, an unexpected dimension to Friday’s discussion will be introduced on-air.

Of the many areas that will be discussed, a 2009 Gartner prognostication regarding the future of BI is one of the more interesting areas we will be covering.  This includes the prediction that a new product category will emerge that combines social software with business intelligence capabilities.

One of five Carnac-type predictions, this point was of particular interest to me in that my government-funded research which focused on interactive assumptions that were originally developed in 1998, reached similar conclusions.  Specifically, that Metaprise applications developed under an agent-based model would leverage advanced algorithms to capture both historic as well as dynamic data to produce a best result outcome on a real-time, real-world basis.

In essence, what Gartner is now predicting in 2009 is in reality the identification of the semantic-based Web 3.0 platform as the bridge between the current and somewhat static Web 2.0 model and the interactive intelligence of the near future Web 4.0 social platforms.

While we will delve into this as well as the other four Gartner predictions in greater depth during Friday’s broadcast, it is a safe assumption that we will likely remove the semantically-built barriers that have led to the debate regarding the differences between Business Intelligence and Business Analytics.  In fact, this is somewhat similar to a discussion I recently had pertaining to the differences between spend intelligence and spend analysis.  In the case of the former, some of my fellow bloggers have on occasion expressed the opinion that the term spend intelligence is “misleading” to the point of even questioning it’s very existence.

One particular quote that stands out is as follows, “But since the real intelligence lies in the user of the tool who takes the actionable data and uses it to get results, there is no spend intelligence software, only spend intelligence enablement software. And when you get right down to it, that’s what you really need as an expert power procurement user – software that helps you make the right decisions, not software that purports to make those decisions for you.”

Certainly human oversight and interaction is an important and necessary element of an automated process as it provides the operational checks and balances that ensure the ongoing veracity of any system.  That said to entertain the above statement as being valid is tantamount to denying the expanding utilization of autopilot functionality in the most advanced airplanes.  Simply put, it is a one-dimensional conclusion limited to a framework of understanding with which the one making the observation is most familiar and most comfortable.

With the advent of advanced algorithm utilization under an agent-based model the emerging socially-centric software to which Gartner has referred does indeed make the right decisions under the watchful eye of a new breed of procurement professional.  Even though Gartner’s recognition is in 2009, this capability was identified, developed, tested and introduced in a production environment going back as far as 1998.

In short, the artificially created chasms between intelligence and analysis whether it be spend or business focused for all intents and purposes no longer exists as the gathering, synthesization and application will become a cohesive and streamlined process under a socially-driven, intelligently adaptive solution platform.

Use the On-Demand Player below to tune in Friday at 12:30 PM EDT as I am certain that you will find it to be a most interesting segment.

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Bill Copacino, CEO Oco Inc.

Bill Copacino, CEO Oco Inc.

About Bill:

Bill has built strong management teams throughout his career. He is recognized as a leader in the areas of business process management and supply chain management.

Previously, Bill was Group Chief Executive for Global Business Consulting at Accenture, responsible for the consulting practices in the areas of Financial Performance Management and Business Intelligence, Customer Relationship Management, Supply Chain Management, Human Capital Development and Human Resources consulting, and Business Strategy.

In his career Bill also served as the Chief Administrative Officer of C&S Wholesale Grocers, a $20 billion food distributor and the eighth largest privately held company in the U.S., as well as Vice President and Managing Director of Arthur D Little and positions at General Electric.

Bill received a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering and operations research from Cornell University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Harvard Business School.