Several weeks ago USAToday actually published an article about business intelligence on the front page. The story started with a discussion of a solar panel manufacturer so you had to read a little more to find out that the story really was about BI. I was pleased that an article like this would be published in such a prominent place. However, it was interesting to see that the story presented BI in a way that many people view BI, even though that view is not very accurate. The view I’m referring to is the one that implies that BI is all about the front end (e.g., reporting).
The article talked about a couple of BI reporting and analytic tools (one of which was Tableau). While Tableau is a great tool (I’ve used it a few times and really like it), it is not a complete end-to-end BI solution. Like most front end reporting, visualization, and analytic tool, it works best when it is able to connect to high-quality data that has been structured correctly.
That’s the part that I wish the article had covered a little better: that good data is vital. For those of us that have been in BI for a while, we know that the availability and quality of the data is about 99% of the battle. Given good data, we can do just about anything. However, most of our efforts spent trying to 1) find the data 2) understand the data 3) fix the data, and 4) integrate the data. Once we accomplish that Herculean goal, we can finally think about actually presenting and analyzing the information gleaned from the data.
So even if USAToday didn’t say much about the data, at least they talked about BI. And that’s good to see.