"Business Intelligence" is sabotage.
When did “business intelligence” become so synonymous with “data visualization”? It's a broken promise that's undermining us.
When did “business intelligence” become so synonymous with “data visualization”? Yes, yes. In spirit, the definition should be broader, but visualizations are what BI has become. It is the Rorschach perception, the first implication formed in our minds. This would be fine, but this branding has been painfully detrimental to our domain.
The nomenclature seems benign, but it’s an affront to our value proposition. We’re calling something that carries no intelligence whatsoever—crude, unprocessed data in visualization form—intelligence. And in doing so, we’re advancing our role as SQL mechanics, for this is the best intelligence we can provide. It’s a brilliant marketing move, sure, imbuing the fantasy of having an organization with intelligence brimming at the seams, infiltrating all decision-making, all strategy. Smarter. More data-driven. Org chart, suffused with insights.
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Yet we fall short, only to promise a meal and serve raw ingredients.
“THIS is intelligence,” we imply with our “BI analyst” titles, as we offer lifeless, uncooked dashboards. “THIS is intelligence,” our tools imply with their “BI for teams” positioning. It’s no wonder our stakeholders diminish us. The best “intelligence” we can manage is to fetch raw ingredients from the kitchen. The ceiling is set, and we have no means of rising above it.
The dashboard is not dead, of course. It’s a valid deliverable. And metric exposure is certainly useful, often business critical. But we have the primitives wrong. Where do we build narratives? Where do we share insights? Where does intelligence proliferate?
The dashboard is not dead, but it’s synonymy with Business Intelligence should be.
👋 Hello! I’m Robert, CPO of Hyperquery and former data scientist. Welcome to Win With Data, where we talk weekly about maximizing the impact of data. If you’re interested in a tool that actually delivers on the promise of business intelligence, check out Hyperquery, a notebook built for analytics. 🙂
To pre-empt some objections I know I’ll have here, I’m not saying it doesn’t require intelligence to build these. There is also no judgment here on the dashboard format — just its synonymy with the term “business intelligence”. Why not just dashboards? Why isn’t the category just dashboards? Damn you, marketing agencies.