Business Intelligence: Gazing at the Crystal Ball

Posted by Karthikeyan Sankaran
June 25th, 2007

Circa 2015 – 8 years from now

CEO of a multinational organization enters the corner office overlooking the busy city down below. On flicking a switch near the seat, the wall in front is illuminated with a colorful dashboard, what is known in CEO circles then, as the Rainbow Chart.

The Rainbow Chart is the CEO’s lifeline as it gives a snapshot of the current business position (the left portion) and also figures/colors that serves as a premonition of the company’s future (the right portion).

The current state/left portion of the dashboard, on closer examination, reveals 4 sub-parts. On the extreme left is the Balance Sheet of the business and next to it is the Income statement. The Income statement has more colors that are changing dynamically as compared to the Balance sheet. Each line item has links to it, using which the CEO can drill down further to specific geographies, business units and even further to individual operating units. The third part has the cash flow details (the colors are changing far more rapidly here) and the fourth one gives the details on inventory, raw materials position and other operational details.

The business future state/right portion of the dashboard has a lot of numbers that can be categorized into two. The first category is specific to the business – Sales in pipeline, Revenue & Cost projections, Top 5 initiatives, Strategy Maps etc. and the second category are the macroeconomic indicators across the world. At the bottom of the dashboard is a stock ticker (what else?) with the company’s stock prices shown in bold.

All these numbers & colors change in real-time and the CEO can drill up/down/across/through all the line items. Similar such dashboards are present across the organization and each one covers details that are relevant for the person’s level and position in the company.

This in essence is the real promise of Business Intelligence.

Whether it happens in 2015 or earlier (hopefully not later!) can be speculated but the focus of the next few blogs from my side will zero-in on some of the pre-requisites for such a scenario – The BI Utopia!

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