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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  

December 2009 Archives

How to mix Business Intelligence and Social Media to enable decision making

Children are constantly learning. First they craw, then they learn how to walk. The same happens with playing. At first they start out doing this alone and they find it difficult to share toys with others. They want to keep those fun things for themselves. But in time the children learn that playing together is more fun, and that playing together also means that you have to share your toys with others. This increases the fun and before you know it you have a new best friend. We have an expression in the Netherlands which goes like this: “Playing together is sharing together”. This Dutch rhyme helps children share their toys with other children while playing. As an adult the world looks pretty much the same. We also find it difficult to share our toys, similarly let alone enterprise data or corporate analyses. However sharing can create enormous advantages and will increase your Return-On-Information. In this article we look at the role of corporate information (or business intelligence) and how social networks (or internet social media like twitter) can help decision making. Perhaps in the near future a manager will publish his or hers corporate data on the net with a $50 reward for the person that comes up with the best solution.

From bearskin suits to intelligent use of information
We used to learn in school during history lessons that the first inhabitants of the Netherlands were fishers, hunters and collectors. They wore bearskin suits and chased after mammoths. After a while they started working the land and established small towns and villages. This urbanization allowed them to split their roles and tasks. The cow gave milk to the farmer which he used to buy bread from the baker. The industrial revolution ended these small scale economic (trading) activities. The modern time demanded mass production and oil and steel were the new, ‘oh so crucial’, cows.

The next big break was the information revolution. The introduction of the computer was just the beginning and all information was converted to bits and bytes. Information became the new oil and is the lubricant for today’s economy. Data or information has become an essential production factor just like labor or capital. However the information revolution came to us in waves. First, information was broadcasted by one source for the benefit of many: Think about mass media like radio and television. The internet has changed this model for ever. The internet started out somewhat one dimensional with website after website broadcasting all possible interests known to mankind. However soon after that, it became possible to react on the sender’s opinion; thus creating some kind of dialogue. The next step was sharing information or creating a dialogue between larger groups of congenial persons. Communities were thus being formed.

The importance of information has been recognized by many. Information has become an economic factor of production and it enables enterprises to achieve competitive advantages. For example, early identification of trends and other developments gives companies a business edge. This has given rise to a field of expertise where collecting information to improve performance has become important: Business Intelligence (BI).
Intelligence, not by coincidence, reminds us of the CIA. An organization that also values information. Only the BI field has been dominated by IT. As a result there is a focus on the technology with regard to information supply instead of using information to increase business opportunities. BI is mainly engaged with opening up enterprise data to get insights in the corporate performance. Social media are also engaged with information collection. Only the platform is not the corporate IT systems but the internet.

Oil is scarce, information is abundant
In time commodities like oil and steel are going to run out: with information it is exactly the other way round. There is an abundance of information available. Data or Information comes from diverse sources; from internal and external systems ranging from cash registers, book keeping, HR , ERP systems to the internet. This information can take on different shapes and forms. It can be a comment placed in an online forum, a picture, a pdf file containing market analyses or a press release. The challenge is to find the proverbial needle in the haystack, except in this case; football fields filled with haystacks.

Thus the first step lies in finding or locating data that can be useful. In other words; where is it? The next step is in controlling the data i.e. to make heads or tails of it: for example, by capturing data in a model to create insight. The central question thereafter would be; what is it? After that we have to look at the value of the captured information. Is it indeed relevant? Does it have some sort of economic value? The last step is an interpretation of the data: by giving the data some kind of rating or importance. In other words; what can I do with it?

The World is continuously in motion and freezing an existing situation is therefore not smart as the value of information decreases directly. The aforementioned steps are therefore not suggested as a well managed linear process. Especially for social media, controlling information can only be done up and until the process of interpretation. For classical BI the process might be a bit more linear and controlled but some phases will still melt together, as pictured in the information cloud example below.


Part 2 of this blog will follow later

Posted December 17, 2009 1:15 AM
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There is a new hype on Twitter: bashing BI trends. This is so much fun. Since everybody is making their BI trends list for next year, let’s all do something else. Let’s find out which trends are real and which are BS or let me rephrase that editorials from the marketing department. The winner of the best bashing of the most repugnant, far away, non inspired BI trend of 2010 will receive many thanks and perhaps a small price.

Posted December 4, 2009 5:54 PM
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