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Where Do BI’s Boundaries Lie? Friday, September 3, 2010

What are the areas that BI covers? It seems like this is a perennially big subject and is easy to get lost!

Well, the answer is not simple and I do not claim to know the right answer to this question. So let me throw the question right back at you. Consider the following 3 scenarios:

1. In exhibit 1, I bring you the work of Charles Minard (1781-1870), a French civil engineer. “His best-known work, Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l’Armee Français dans la campagne de Russe 1812-13, dramatically displays the number of Napoleon’s soldiers by the width of an ever-reducing band drawn across a map from France to Moscow. At its origin, a wide band shows 442,000 soldiers left France, narrowing across several hundred miles to100,000 men reaching Moscow. With a parallel temperature graph displaying deadly frigid Russian winter temperatures along the way, the band shrinks during the retreat to a pathetic thin trickle of 10,000 survivors returning to their homeland”. Check http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Minard.png

2. As exhibit 2, this article from the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/11/09/world/europe/20091109-berlinwallthennow.html), published on the 20th anniversary of the Berlin wall demolition, displays with its innovative photo mash-ups and adjoining commentary how life has changed for the better in unified Germany.

3. Finally, as exhibit set 3, let us move to sports. Check out the ubiquitous “worm” now well publicized in all televised cricket (http://www.cricinfo.com/zim-tri2010/engine/match/452150.html?view=graph) or the much more sophisticated Guardian Chalkboards (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/chalkboards) that allow you to create your own interactive visualizations to analyze player/team performance. Finally, for those who followed the football (soccer) world cup – this was the mother of all planners (http://www.marca.com/deporte/futbol/mundial/sudafrica-2010/calendario-english.html )

Now, do any or all of the above, fall under the umbrella of business intelligence? Your answer is as good as mine. What I do know of Business Intelligence is that, like our major cities, its constantly grows, evolves and stretches it boundaries.

Posted by Rajesh Ramaswamy | No Comments
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