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What The Hell Is “Business Intelligence” Anyway? (Hint: Buzzword Insanity)

By on Jul 28, 2011 | 2 comments

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Few days ago, I met a bunch of my school friends at another school-friend’s wedding. Our topics were totally different from what they should have been. One of my “IT” friend was explaining his job at Infosys to a non-IT friend of mine. Naturally, he was using all the IT buzzwords to make him appear more intelligent & important at job & company than he really is. One buzzword (Buzzterm) he repeated was ‘Business Intelligence’).

Business Intelligence Buzzword

Business Intelligence, Huh?

Now, as a startup CEO, I should typically use terms like ‘Business Intelligence’, “Business Logic” and so on. But I found out I never used any of these buzzterms. Confession: I was absolutely clueless about what these buzzterms mean! Bah! I’m a CEO who does not understand ‘Business Intelligence’! Come on! I digged Wiki pages and read first few lines – but BOOM! Still it makes no sense! I dig deeper and discover following lines that explain what ‘Business Intelligence’ is –

In a 1958 article, IBM researcher Hans Peter Luhn used the term business intelligence. He defined intelligence as: “the ability to apprehend the interrelationships of presented facts in such a way as to guide action towards a desired goal.”

Come on, I know it didn’t make sense to you either! Let’s try to figure out the meaning and simplify it. “apprehend the interrelationships of presented facts” – it means understand how the ‘facts’ are related to each other and “ in such a way as to guide action towards a desired goal.” means take actions based on the facts to achieve a goal.

…isn’t that what we all, the ‘lesser intelligent and important’ folks do? Does it require ‘Business Intelligence’? Is it really that complicated? Remember how Aamir Khan (Rancho) describes ‘book’ to his professor in 3 Idiots movie? –

“Instruments that record analyses summarize organize debate and explain information which are illustrative non-illustrative hardbound paperback jacketed non-jacketed with forward introduction, table of contents, index that are indented for the englightnment, understanding enrichment enhancement and education of the human brain thru sensory root of vision… sometimes touch”


  1. Kartik G Vyas

    July 29, 2011

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    Business Intelligence is a way to make sense out of the captured data across various systems in your organization. To explain it in a Rancho way – whereever there is data you need business intelligence. Big K writes a blog, he finds out how many people read it – business intelligence. What is the profile of readers – business intelligence. Tendulkar scored a century – how many sixes and fours he hit -business intelligence, how did his wagon wheel look like?- business intellignce. Actually Big K ‘Hum business intelligence karne layak data se ghire hue hain’.

  2. Mahul Bhattacharya

    August 1, 2011

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    This is from a guy who was once into business intelligence professionally.

    It’s like if you are selling rice in a grocery shop, you would definitely keep a track of how much rice you have sold.  Or if you have a regular customer, you would definitely remember to smile at him the next time he comes. That, is hardly intelligence, its more like common sense.

    To sell this idea like it’s a big deal, you need bombastic words like “business intelligence”. 

    Some organizations do mine this data and generate really intelligent information out of it, but what most BI techies do is to load huge volumes of all types of data into tables, aggregate them and show them to management in colorful graphs and charts.

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