An incrementalist’s guide to better business intelligence

Business intelligence expert Claudia Imhoff of Intelligent Solutions describes the end-game for business intelligence in something she calls the "Corporate Information Factory" (plus an "e" for Extended). CIFE is a comprehensive ecosystems of people, processes, systems and applications to deliver all the promise of business intelligence for an organization.


Here’s the problem: most businesses looking at this picture are going to feel intimidated and inadequate, like presenting to Steve Jobs (entertaining for Martha Stewart?). Below is my view of the common reality of business intelligence—it is a far simpler picture, lacking the governance, data management processes, multiple data marts, and overall data discipline.

CIFE reality

Of course, CIFE probably wasn’t meant for comparison; it is a long-term vision. Even so, the gap between reality and this beau ideal of BI may be too vast to be useful for many organizations.

The real questions: How do I get started in the right direction? How can I make better use of my business data without all the large investments implied by the CIFE model?

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll share our perspective on low-risk, practical actions with immediate impact. Here’s some of what you can expect...

Step 1: Where do I stand?—Asking the right questions to start the journey

Step 2: Love the One You’re With—Making the most of Excel

Step 3: The Learning Journey—Investing in analysis before reporting

Step 4: Just Say No—Reducing the pain and increasing the value of reporting

Step 5: Small Victories—Getting the organization to care about analytics