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Jorgen Heizenberg

Return on Intelligence

I am happy to be part of the BeyeNETWORK team of thought leaders. I have a great interest in all things related to business intelligence, and I hope to blog about ways I see BI providing business value. In fact, I use a term, "return on intelligence," to describe the impact of delivering the right information, gathered from myriad sources, to a wide number of people which empowers them and their decision making.

I truly believe in the value of BI, especially in this economic downturn. If you have examples of positive return on intelligence or have topics you would like me cover, please contact me via this blog or at

About the author >

Jorgen Heizenberg currently acts as the Principal Technology Officer for the Business Intelligence (BI) domain at Capgemini in the Netherlands. He actively monitors the BI market for the impact on Capgemini and its clients. He is the author of many articles and white papers on business intelligence. Jorgen is also actively advising clients on business intelligence. Over the years, he has filled many different roles - all BI related, ranging from reporting specialist to BI strategy consultant. He has more than 10 years of experience on a operational, tactical and strategic level in planning, designing and creating management information solutions for a variety of clients and industries. He is known within the Dutch BI community for his original and often humorous approach toward BI. His ambition is to create a stronger focus on BI functionality and end-user benefits rather than on technique. You may contact him at  

February 2009 Archives

”But it wasn't because I didn't know enough. I just knew too much”. Gnarls Barkley - Crazy

The market is volatile. Your customers are volatile. Maybe if you look in the mirror you will see a volatile person. But volatility is something we - in general - tend to dislike. Therefore we strive to regain control. Control of our finances, of our customer even of our future. Management Information seems to help us with this. But the way we use management information or business intelligence is not always up to par. Most of the time we use historical data or performance to make decisions. But many answers, smart moves, right decisions are hidden in the near future. That's why we want to be proactive. Beat the other guys. Advanced Analytics seems to work. It combines techniques like datamining and statistics with business knowledge to create predictive models. But even in advanced analytics we seems to focus too much on using our own data. Some argue that the most valuable information is not found inside your company but outside. If this is true I don't know. What I do know is that external data can help you improve your performance. But how do you regain control of external - often unstructured - data. And even better. How can you make this process repeatable? The most obvious three problems that arise are: [1] too much data, [2] data too late and [3] poor data quality.

The problem with having too much data is that you need to come to a selection. The data in the world keeps growing and growing in mind boggling amounts. But the majority of this increase is not relevant. Pictures on flickr are great but aren't much help when figuring out your supply chain strategy for 2010. But it is not so much the amount of data that is the problem. It is the structure. If you find a way to effectively structure any increase can be handled without too much effort. Therefore I would suggest to start structuring your data for relevance.

Another problem is that the relevant structured data is often received too late. After the fact has already happened. This means that no proactive behavior but reactive behavior. So how can we improve on that? One solution could be to set up early warning signs. Maybe there are some early indicators that can warn us about things to come. For more information on this I would like to suggest the work of Ben Gilad ( Please make sure you know what early warning systems are crucial for your organization.

Finally, good old data quality. In our pursuit for perfect data we tend to forget the reason why? Do we really need perfect flawless data ? If we have one piece of the puzzle that is wrong it might causes a problem. But if we have 1000 pieces of the puzzle - some right some wrong - we have enough information to make our decisions. So forget about data quality and start focusing on relationships between the data elements that make for the big picture.

If business intelligence can improve by adding external data, why is it that a lot of companies keep looking inward for their management information? One explanation could be that compliance is often the reason why they have a BI environment anyway. For some reason they have to report their performance to stakeholders. This mandatory reporting is often focus on (financial) internal data. Or somebody started with improving a process by making it measurable with the use of BI. Or even more simplw. It is easier to start with your own system, company or IT department.

In conclusion I would like to argue that we need to structure and combine internal and external data in order to really gain any competitive value.

Posted February 19, 2009 8:56 PM
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On a Dutch website



there has been some discussion about the return on investement for BI. I reacted (in Dutch). Follow the link for the reaction from myself and others.

Posted February 2, 2009 10:29 AM
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