3 Reasons for BI

So you have been working with business intelligent tools for a while but when confronted by the COO on why you think they would be a good fit for your company you cannot figure out how to explain it to him/her.Here I have posted and describe three arguments you may use to persuade a business of the general value that Business Intelligence offers to most companies.

 1. Make faster decisions

BPMS LifecycleBI helps make better quality informative decisions at a faster rate than was done in the past.  It is not just for the IT staff, it is used by managers, executives, and consumers. One of the finalized reports in BI is the dashboard that allows for instantaneous perception of enterprise, departments and individuals performance, by bringing key metrics in a nice-looking and instinctive graphic interface. The best portion of a well advanced dashboard is the capability to drill down to underlying reports and apprehend what factors are contributing to good and bad performance. Another basic feature about dashboards is they permit you to effortlessly and constantly observe for exceptions, and alerts operators when to take action.

2. Report on the Now not the past

market BIWhile most reports can show you what has happened in the past, BI analytics can alert you to what is happening now and send out an alert. BI can also extrapolate possible future outcomes as well and all from a central location so that there is no relying on several different user reports from spreadsheets. The consistency of views is offered between all users because if the automatic data inputs. Because most of BI is automated, the accuracy of the data is also easier to trust. It is imperative for a corporation’s success to have detailed analysis of a corporation’s customers, business environment, stakeholders, business processes, competitors and several other sources of potential valuable information.

2. Future Insight

Bi dashboard exampleBI can offer future insight with predictive tools  so besides just viewing past and present information, you can also get a feel for what may happen in the future. Forecasting possible outcomes also gives  users the ability to be proactive.  Data mining allows analytics to be run on information that may have hidden patterns. Through simulations and collecting seemingly unrelated data, information can be revealed on what be approaching.


With BI you can increase employee productivity,  by empowering  employees with up-to-date reports that will help business decision making capabilities. Your business processes can be easily manage corporate wide from one spot. Relationships with business customers increase as well as the ability to increase market share, the companies IT department can reduce resources which reduces costs and helps deliver a more flexible department for developing and deployment of future cycles. The best way, in my own opinion, would be to provide several case examples from several different organizational implementations, from large scale to small, depending on what business you are trying to convince. If you are dealing with someone more tech savvy, then instead of just using dollars and cents, you could move on to actual business models that can help realize a business strategy.

Ethics in Business Intelligence


The type of ethics in business intelligence (BI) is the ethical principles of conduct that govern an individual in the workplace or a company in general. It is also known as professional ethics and not to be confused with other forms of philosophical ethics including religious conviction, or popular conviction. Professional ethics according to Griffin (1986) is that profit is not the only important strategy of a business anymore. There is also more of a concern and motivator of companies to do what is right.

Companies must acknowledge that they have a common good to protect there local community, improve employee relations and promote informational press to the public. While back in 1986, Griffin was directing his argument towards ethics in accounting but it is also true today in Business Intelligence. Government regulations are not changing fast enough to cover all the changes in technology that bombards users on day to day bases. It is up to corporations to create a code of ethics, and to persistently be receptive to the needs of the public being served.

Everyday in BI management professionals may be at risk of making unethical practices in there decisions that regards the consumer, business and/or other employees data. Ethics is a touchy subject, there is always going to be controversy on how companies choose to handle business decisions. There is no definite decision to make when it comes to ethical decisions. While sometimes it may involve illegal practices, other times it is just a decision that needs to be made in a company to promote a better way of life for all.

An example of an ethical decision would be a manager of a BI system that chooses to use cheaper data in his/her data mining activities to save money. The data he/she chooses to implement involves personal credit score reports. The cheaper data sets have a 20% possibility of being incorrect. The manager did not see it as being an unethical decision when it was made, just a way to continue to generate close-to-accurate reports and save money.  The impacting decision on 20% of the company’s customers may have different results as more people are turned down for credit because inaccurate reports. It is not a crime to have implemented the inaccurate data sets but it may seem as an unethical practice to others. While it is important for managers to be able to make their own decisions, this example decision being made should have involved more managers since it affected the whole business. The manager’s choice could bankrupt the company as user start to leave their business for more accurate competitive companies. As the example points out, sometimes there is no really clear answer to wither an issue involves an ethical or legal choice and each situation can be different. Trying to make decisions based on individuals’ beliefs when dealing with a company can amount to intellectual stalls and trying to come to a decision can be expensive and time consuming.

Today’s society has come to the point where there are more solutions to problems than ever before. What once was impossible can now be accomplished through the use of BI and other technology similar to BI. It is not going to stop; technology is going to keep advancing. What seems improbable now may be common in the near future. Because of business globalization, there is also a larger separation between companies and customers, companies and competitors than there was when everything was done locally in the past. Larger separation between companies and the consumer has resulted in unethical and sometimes illegal business decisions like data theft. Because of all the technology used in big businesses, and resulting exposure to unethical practices by some of the larger corporations like Enron, there is growing anxiety of large companies to be free of unethical practices. Additionally the general trust level of users has eroded to the point were trust really has to be earned. Users are very aware of cases of identity information being lost to theft as well as other case examples in the media. Users have taken up with the attitude of show me or prove to me that they are safe, that there information is safe or they will not do business.

IT Personnel in Ethics

It is so easy for BI managers to sit behind there desk and manage the data on a day to day business thinking that ethical practices do not concern them. That is not the correct attitude to have. Everyone employed in the information technology field has an obligation to be part of company ethical policies and practices. It is not just about creating schemas and data models, as IT managers they have more of an ethical decision to make than there employers. The BI manager knows more about the emerging technology, and has the best knowledge of a company’s technologies capabilities of what is possible. With all the work that is done in an informational system and what is involved in information delivery and business ethical dilemmas.

Code of Ethics

Every technologically backed association deals with ethical issues in their own way. The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has set some great code of ethics including “Computing professionals have a responsibility to share technical knowledge with the public by encouraging understanding of computing, including the impacts of computer systems and their limitations. This imperative implies an obligation to counter any false views related to computing” (ACM, 1992, para. 3), while most of the code of ethics covers general ethical issues, it also cover leadership and other professional responsibility in information technology and is worth looking up.

PAPA Framework

PAPA is an acronym for privacy, accuracy, property, and accessibility. A framework proposed by Richard Mason as the four ethical issues of the information age. He proposed this framework 25 years ago in 1986. To date it is still acknowledge as the four subjects of ethics in information technology and covers ethics in BI as more and more data is extracted, transformed and loaded into data warehouse silos. A lot of are private information is handle with BI in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems like Amazons customer web portal. While Amazon is making web application business services for users better and geared towards individual use ,it also demands that some of your private information is given in return for the CRM to accurately predict what you may need and want. Elements of privacy should contain a notice of what data is being collected, how it is being used, a option to participate of not, security measures to protect from data misuse, the ability to access your person information to review and correct and steps are assigned to enforce set policies. On opposing side of privacy is the need to create security, any inadequate security measures can be viewed as carelessness also while the option to participate in the data collection is an option, choosing to not participate usually means that the company will also not provide their services to you.

Accuracy Data Mining (DM) and BI systems is very costly and the percentage of accurate data is a business decision. Some companies can ethically choose less accurate data and still maintain a competitive edge, and supply the users with their services while other systems like a Hospital Information System (HIS) cannot afford to reduce accuracy when a persons life in hanging on the line. When it comes down to who is responsible for the accuracy of the data, executives may set business processes for guidelines but the main responsibility stills falls to the BI manager to be able to understand their BI database and also for when new data must be integrated. Executives do not care how the analytics works, just that they are presented with accurate reports and/or dashboards. The whole reliability and integrity of a BI system eventually is placed on the personnel who can transfers the sea of technology used, not the end users. When there is an ethical situation within the company who will be help liable, the executive who did not know the technology or the BI manager in charge of data accuracy?

Accessibility of data in the past was only privileged to a significantly smaller group of user than now. With the technology explosion of BI and web interfaces, anyone with a smart phone, computer, laptop or PDA can gain access DM information.  The technology gap, also known as the digital divide, is growing smaller. Information is power, users have a right to be on a level playing field, we have a morale obligation to provide skills to understand and manage, understand, and access information throughout the world so that users are on a level playing field when it comes down to access od data that provides basic survival information, so a larger technology gap is not created based on poverty, sex, age, or race. While sharing data freely is a goal to help individuals, there is a limit to what can be shared among business partners, customers and competitors yet they should also have the right to come to the same results using technology.

Ethical Issues in BI

While many ethical issue are obscure and hard to notice at the surface there is one a number one concern brought up by most users and according to Hackathorn (2005), the ethical issue in BI that is known by most is the involuntary release of personal information that has lead to identity theft. The theft of personal information like social security numbers, birthdates, and credit card numbers has allowed for technology skilled criminals to possibly walk away with billions of dollars in innocent victims’ money nationally.

Organization need to be accountable for financial data. The U.S. has required financial accountability through regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) of 2002. Yet according to Wallice (2011), the main focus of SOX is to measure internal effectiveness of business controls and does not explicitly address IT. Because of the lack of security for IT in SOX, ISO 17700, the International Standard for the Code and Practice for Informational Security Management is being executed by companies as a framework for maintaining informational security to protect information systems from unauthorized admission, usage, modification, and destruction.

The pressing issue of homeland security and the U.S. patriot Act after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, left the Government with a strong ability to analyze anyone in the United States as a threat by collecting almost any type of data that they wish including financial activities and how they may be related to terrorism.

Technology is being implemented at airports in order to fight terrorism also. The Transport Security Administration (TSA), according to Worthen (2006), is continuously conducting test with different data mining techniques in order to find the most effective way of weeding out terrorist so that they never gain access to be airlines again. The lack of an almost never ending budget and a lack of a well defined scope allow the TSA to try newer technologies in the name of security, compared to other sectors of business. After 9/11 the Computer Automated Passenger Pre-screening (CAPPS) system that used consumers’, names, credit card information, and address to screen for criminals was change to CAPPS II. CAPPS II combined previous technology of its predecessor with information purchased from data stores run by ChoicePoint and LexisNexis.  CAPPS was eventually replaced with a newer system called Secure Flight that shares the same process of combining passenger data with information purchased from commercial data providers. Over $125 million has been spent in the name of homeland security just in the first 5 years after 9/11.

Framework for Solving Ethical Dilemmas

The ability to solve any ethical problem is to first be aware that there is an ethical situation. Try to be open and honest about the situation while at the same time you need to avoid discussions that could magnify the problem. Try to make the subject of ethics in the work place an acceptable activity. The next step is to thoroughly research the ethical problem and at the same time stay focused on the problem at hand and not try to solve the greater issues, if it is necessary for a person to solve the greater ethical issues that do not impact the company then it should be done on their own personal time. Once all research has been done on the subject and you are able to gain a better understanding to the root of the problem you need to come to a decision on what should be done to fix the ethical problem. Once you have made the proper decision make sure that it is properly documented for you and future employees can learn from it. Solving ethical solutions is the same as solving any decision making process effectively and can be broken down into 6 simple steps: Identify the decision, get the facts, develop alternatives, rate each alternative, make the decision and implement the decision. Make sure to be clear about your actions, if you cannot come to a valuable solution on your own consider hiring someone who can.

Benefits of Ethics in IT

Employers may see that “Although data are mixed, numerous studies in the field of computer ethics support the hypothesis that a written and clearly transmitted code of ethics is a strong influence on employee behavior when an ethical decision is involved” (Computer Ethics, n.d.). Companies that can change there thinking to become more ethical will also beat government regulations while implementing ethical solutions at the companies own affordable base without having to hurry up and match such regulations and will save themselves from the costs of future fines and fees for data misuses in their BI system. If a company is well know for being able to protect the companies BI systems not only from security hacks but also from unethical practices, that company will most likely have the competitive advantage over their rivals and companies can align the business processes of their BI better to cover the broader strategy. The main reason is to gain trust of your products and services and the ability to get a good night sleep knowing you have not cause financial or emotional harm to others.



Governments cannot change laws fast enough to protect ethical problems that are arising from new technology. It is in the best interest of companies to be proactive when dealing with ethical situations within there companies IT department. IT personnel do have a role to play in keeping BI systems protected and ethical. IT personnel know the system better than anyone else in the organization and have a responsibility to help keep the data safe. A good guideline to follow when covering ethics in data is PAPA and while you may not want to discuss ethics, a company can benefit from being ethical and choices should be made, doing nothing is always a choice but it is a poor choice when the stack of a company’s reputation is on the line.


ACM Council. (October, 1992). Code of Ethics. In Association for Computing Machinery. Retrieved April, 2011, from http://www.acm.org/about/code-of-ethics.

Computer Ethics – Computer Ethics In The Workplace – Ethical, Companies, Company, Organizations, Norms, and Employees, (n.d.). retrieved April 25, 2011, from http://ecommerce.hostip.info/pages/243/Computer-Ethics-COMPUTER-ETHICS-IN-WORKPLACE.html#ixzz1KajkwiJr

Griffin, Charles H.. (1962). The Practical Philosophy of Prefessional Ethics. Journal of Accountancy (pre-1986), 113(000005), 92.  Retrieved April 24, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 83270709).

Hackathorn, Richard. (August 2003). Ethics of Business Intelligence: A Practical Treatment Retrieved April, 2011, from www.bolder.com/pubs/TDWI200308-BI%20Ethics%20v5.pdf

Hackathorn, Richard. (September 2005). Ethics in business intelligence. In Bolder. Retrieved April, 2011, from www.bolder.com/pubs/TD-BIEthics.pdf.

Peslak, Alan R.. (2006). PAPA REVISITED: A CURRENT EMPIRICAL STUDY OF THE MASON FRAMEWORK. The Journal of Computer Information Systems, 46(3), 117-123.  Retrieved April 25, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1038730691).

Wallace, L., Lin, H., & Cefaratti, M.. (2011). Information Security and Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance: An Exploratory Study. Journal of Information Systems, 25(1), 185-211.  Retrieved April 25, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 2298740021).

Geographic Systems in Business

Geographic Information System (GIS) started out as just a proprietary system that used its own standards into a position of using technology standards and technology-based standards to be accepted by the IT community as another form of information technology that could help manage business. It has become one of the newer emerging Business Intelligence (BI) areas that, “has now become a full IT system for integrating all sorts of scientific and geographic information into all human activities” (Mitchell, 2009, p. 2).

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GIS layered

Geographical Information Systems

A GIS implements computers to capture data on all forms of geographical referenced information and manages the data for analyses. Visual data produced by GIS systems can be used to show relationships, patterns and trends by reports that can either be shown on a map or in standard reports, graphs and charts. Several available programs can be obtained for free from sites, like opensourcegis.org, to incorporate into businesses Enterprise Resource Planner (ERP) to help develop a company’s business strategy/plan in banking, insurance, logistics, media, real estate, and retail. Corporations are not the only organizations that can/have benefit from a GIS. Government, educational and science, environment and conservation, natural resources and utility organizations can also benefit from implementing geographic information systems to learn best practice by collecting data dealing with Geo-location problem solving. “GIS is a powerful analytical tool. Its benefits to underwriting management are many, in helping to better underwrite risk and control hazardous and catastrophic exposures” (Picture, 2005, p. 10).
Benefits of GIS in BI has evolved to the point were we do not need to know who did what when and why but also solved the 5th piece of the puzzle, where it happened, also known as spatial technology. Gis.com describes several different uses that can be implemented using GIS. The basics of how GIS can be used is to map features on a map and to find patterns on how those features change to make better decisions in market research, by using quantities as a reference with location businesses in sales can easily be informed were there target market is located and which locations on a map have the highest densities for a chosen market segmentation. An additional feature is the ability to shift the location information by time and distinguish patterns in time. A good example would be how meteorologist use GIS to track global trends in weather in order to better predict weather in the future. The realization of how well GIS can help in business is apparent when global organizations like the World Bank make it a priority to “help countries develop national statistical capacity and help mobilize the expertise of the international statistical system” (World, 2011, para 2).
Data collection used for plotting points on a map use to mainly involve businesses questionnaires and government censuses were the primary way to collect data could be inaccurate because of the many steps it takes before the data is digitized and you still had to account for human error. The quality of data was not as accurate as current resources being applied today through smart phones, and other forms of computers that are connected to the Internet and constantly report location through the use of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Addition the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips, satellites, scalable maps, aerial-photography and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geo-tagged pictures, and just about anything that moves have also been tied in with GIS to allowed for tracking of data that can be placed on a map with more accuracy through automation. Time accuracy of data is another quality issue that needs to be addressed. The world is always changing, you usually wouldn’t use last month’s weather report to go on a motorcycle ride, or you friends address from 20 years ago to send a post card. It is important to make sure that the data being used is up to date before making critical businesses decisions on it also.
Challenges and risks of deploying any BI environment process or tool are the same as it has been to deploy any form of decision making platform in the past several decades. Wither implementation is constrained by technical ability, human and financial resources or just the lack of coordination throughout an organization. There are traditional legalities being added to cover privacy rights as more and more Geo-data about consumers is being disseminated throughout the world. Privacy rights are being circumvented by added small disclosure rights to most software that has to be accepted before you can use a service providers services. One way an organization can save resources is to implement low cost external data that is readily available by companies like Google maps but it is a patchy solution and potentially could not be available in the future.
As a BI consultant I would recommend the use of geographic information for any larger company, in any industry, the larger the company the greater the needed to track spacial information in order to reduce risk in decision making. The technology in GIS has developed to the point were anyone can access the Internet and get a general view of spacial data for underwriting, man-made, environmental, infrastructure, facilities and especially in businesses were the sales by location can provide better information on policyholder, and can target potential clients.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words! (2005, December). Canadian Underwriter: Insurance Technology Guide 2006,10. Retrieved April 17, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 974623161).
Mitchell, R.. (2009, July). Jack Dangermond. Computerworld, 43(24), 13-14. Retrieved April 17, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1821176221).
World Bank Aids Tanzania to Improve Quality of Statistical Data and Information. (2011, March 26). The Pak Banker. Retrieved April 17, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 2302228461).


Sources of Data for Business intelligence

CassettesRaw data on its own is not very useful, it is just stacks of symbols, sounds, pictures, numbers or words. After data is collected the ability to connect the data, to give it relational meaning is when data becomes useful information. Information can answer questions of who, what, when and where. Once you see the relation in information you can start to see patterns in how the information changes through visual representations. Knowledge is gained from information when businesses can understand the changing patterns of information to answer questions on how items function in the real world; this is the main goal of business intelligence. Unless business information data compromises privacy or security, all data in every activity that can be observed and recorded will eventual become legally obtained business intelligence. Data acquisition helps in making informed business decisions by transforming information into graphs, charts, simulations or datasets to analyze trends and conclude on what businesses decisions should be made. Wither it is for a government or commercial business the optimal amount of data collection that is wanted is unlimited, because once you now everything about your target goal, you can begin to make the most accurate decisions.
Data Collection in Manufacturing
Managers want feedback from the manufacturing equipment they are in charge of, to monitor how machine processes are, how long the machine has been idle, and how many parts per shift have been produced. Equipment can be attached to machines that can monitor all aspects of physical change from several different points. Analog to digital converters can send the information to a management resource planner or process planner for real time updates on the total progress of a manufacturing plant. Events are monitored in real time for information that can help with corrective actions or adjust accountancy billing based on the amount of parts produced. Thousands of data points can be monitored each second for change on equipment, the several samples of variable changes are “critical to process inputs, even from multiple channels, as fast as possible. But there is more to it than that. Inputs must be processed and correlated so that the feedback loop can initiate changes earlier” (Varhol, 2006, para. 7).
Data entry from security entry ways within factories has also been tied into the billable hours for payroll and taxes, by using the same devices that scan your identification card to gain access to the company to also track when a employee logged in or out of work. So you know when personnel entered the building and when they started working to when they finished working and left the building. Their is several additional data points that that when entered and managed can help better manage personnel, production, billing and collections, sales management, customer care, marketing campaigns, supply chains, accounting, decision supports and any other business decisions. Information and data that is collected in a manufacturing company is obvious and usually serves an internal purpose. More and more companies are gleaning data that can be taken without people even realizing it and used for better advertisement.
Data for Online Marketing
More and more data every year is being amassed from companies over the internet. The use of smart phones has probably doubled or tripled the amount of data available for use in marketing campaigns. Websites, interactive applications, emails, and advertisements can incorporate cookies, pixel tags and web beacons to track individuals browsing behavior to better facilitate the effectiveness for advertising and search engine optimization. Online companies also try to track occupation, language, location, and unique device identifier of device when a product is used so that companies can better understand customer behavior and improve products, services, and advertising. Data gathered from Internet enabled devices also help to control the amount of times you see an Internet ad, to help display ads that are similar to your personal interests and help to monitor the effectiveness of an on-line ad campaign. The most recent data mining craze is storing your personal location using the global positioning system (GPS) and your phone.
Wireless Data Collection
Your location is just as important as all the other data previously discussed. Apple even changed there privacy policies in 2010 so the companies “iPhone, iPad and Mac computers collect location information, but do so anonymously in batches and encrypt it before sending the data over a WiFi connection from the devices to Apple’s servers every 12 hours (Apple, 2010, para. 1). Apple’s admitted that the main reason for wanting to track location of there customers is to provide location based services.
More and more governments are pursuing locational data. Companies like Chevron have been able save millions in freight costs with “more efficient routing that cuts the number of hours and miles the boats travel” (Feldman, 2010, para. 3). Companies can also use location based web services and geospatial information systems (GIS) to decide where the next office or store should be built based on actual driving times and traffic patterns. Other companies are using GPS, RFID, and Wi-Fi technologies to control shipments and other logistics in supply chain management, local government can report problems instantly of time sensitive situations like a down power line, government workers can use smart phones to geo-tag a picture and send it to the main office so the correct department can be notified to fix the problem. The United Parcel Service uses GPS to report were your package is during transit and GPS can be used for just socially updating friends were they are by using applications like Foursquare, a social driven location sharing application.
Data collection is being used more in businesses and governments every year. It has saved money in production and shipping because of the ability to monitor production and shipping in real time. Marketing can be used to target individuals on-line and remember who you are for your visit. We have only scratched the surface on how business intelligence will develop in the future. Even small business can take advantages of some of the technology that was to expensive to consider just a decade ago because of the price drop in devices like smart phones and other technological advancements.

Apple Tells Congressmen it Batches Encrypts Location Data 411968. July 20, 2010 pNAeWeek, p.NA. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Computer Database via Gale: http://0-find.galegroup.com.libcat.ferris.edu/gtx/start.do?prodId=CDB&userGroupName=lom_ferrissu
Feldman, J. (Nov 1, 2010). [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Location Data] Here And Now. InformationWeek, 1284. p.53. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Computer Database via Gale: http://0-find.galegroup.com.libcat.ferris.edu/gtx/start.do?prodId=CDB&userGroupName=lom_ferrissu
Varhol, P. (June 26, 2006). Advanced control designs are drowning in data. Electronic Engineering Times, p.39. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Computer Database via Gale: http://0-find.galegroup.com.libcat.ferris.edu/gtx/start.do?prodId=CDB&userGroupName=lom_ferrissu