Posted by Karthikeyan Sankaran
December 26th, 2007

Let’s for a moment accept the hypothesis that the true intent of Business Intelligence is to help organizations manage their business better. “Better” in this context tends to be a rather elastic adjective as it straddles the entire spectrum of firms using BI for simple management reporting to the other extreme of using BI to ‘Compete on Analytics’ in the marketplace.

“Managing business better” presents the classic question of “What aspects of business can BI help manage better”. The Answer – “Pretty much everything”.

In this post, I would like to list down the different business areas that ought to be managed for the better and drill down into the applicability of BI for each of these areas in future posts. The primary reference for my listing is from one of the best management books I have ever read till date – “What Management Is” by Joan Magretta and Nan Stone. ( This book really helps in drawing the boundaries around management concepts and for BI practitioners, like me, shows the direction for the evolution and business applicability of BI.

BI practitioners need to understand the following business areas:

  1. Value Creation – BI can help in providing the critical “Outside-in” perspective
  2. Business Model – Is this the right business to be in?
  3. Strategy – Validation and tuning of Strategy thro’ BI
  4. Organization Boundaries – BI can help solve the Build vs Buy conundrum
  5. Numbers in Business – Really the sweetspot for BI applications
  6. Mission and Measures – Connecting the company’s mission with the measures
  7. Innovation and Uncertainty – Domain of Predictive Analytics & its ilk
  8. Focus – Realm of Pareto’s Law vis-à-vis the more recent “Long-Tail” phenomenon
  9. Managing People – Human Resource Analytics is one of the most happening analytics application areas at this point in time.

Bit of marketing here – after all, this is a corporate blog – My company Hexaware is a specialty provider of HR Analytics solutions. Please do visit – for more information

To me, the list above presents the most comprehensive high-level thought process when confronted with implementation of BI in organizations. In my consulting engagements, the litmus test is to really see whether the BI strategy covers the different aspects of business as noted above – “More the coverage better is the BI vision”.

Information Nugget

I was quite fascinated by the range of analytical apps available “On-Demand” at I personally feel that “On-Demand” does have the potential to disruptively change the way BI services have been delivered customers. More on that later!

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2008!

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