SMART is the word yesterday at the Sun organized seminar aimed
at instructing the market further on the concept of Business Intelligence (BI) and what it entails. Data alone
is not enough; what it must do, to be relevant to the business process, is for it to make sense.
That's the difference between data and information, according to an associate partner of Arthur Andersen's who
is present at the seminar today.
Answering a query about whether BI is just CRM re-named, Chart Chai Chayavirabood of Arthur Andersen replies,
"BI lends to an IT structure the ability to transform data into information."
Information that a business could use, to be precise.
In ordinary circumstances, information about a customer can pass through a company's IT system without leaving
much imprint on the business. The customer enters as a digital unit with an attachment of standard information
and he leaves pretty much the same way. The file is then stored in a back-corner of the digital hardware until
the customer visits again.
BI suggests that those information can be collected, harnessed and make sense of in such a way as to make it
meaningful to the business process.
For instance, with BI, data collection begins at the moment the customer enters into the company's e-business
structure, it will track the customer as he goes about his net activities, it will relay and connects up with information
previously gathered about this customer from other channels, and adding all that together, BI will form a complete
picture of the customer as an individual, profiling everything from buying preferences, payment habits to on-line
The implication is clear, such a profile enables a company to direct more precise marketing at the customer.
It affords detection of fraudulent or undesirable users. In addition, macro evaluation of this kind of information
will tell a company even more about its own business. The potential is obvious.
When it comes to information about customers, companies are plagued with another problem, that of being
unable to relate data about the same customer coming from different sources.
When a company is big enough, it will have several points of contact with its customers. There is e-mailing,
direct selling, tele-marketing, retailing, and so forth, but information from these sources are separate, even
though it may be on the same customer.
This is why your credit card company would call you up twice a year to ask you to sign up with a card that you
already own. It is because the information has not been shared.
BI will change that, collating data from multi-sources and producing a single view of the same customer.
In the words of Cyrus Golkar, chief presenter at the seminar today and Sun Microsystem representative, BI provides
the glue that gel all the information systems of an organization together. ERP, CRM, information portals, risk
management, finance, supply chain management, all these systems can be negotiated and held together by deploying
At the heart a BI structure is a data storage area called the data warehouse, where information from different
systems are collected and organized. A set up of BI enabling structure does not come cheap, costing upward of 1
to 15 million depending on the scale and services that are picked.
One final word of advise from the convention speakers to would be customers, define your business objectives
well with regards to what you want the BI structure to achieve, and ensure maximum scalability and later add-ons.