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Beyond The CEO Dashboard

The lower-level, indispensable folks who actually run things at most businesses are stepping up and taking charge of business intelligence.
The lower-level, indispensable folks who actually run the show at most businesses are stepping up and taking charge of business intelligence.

Almost three-quarters of respondents from 540 organizations studied recently by Ventana Research said they now deploy business intelligence applications to "line-of-business" workers to improve performance. Operational use of BI is now "far more widespread than strategic management use of BI," Ventana says, and it's going to outpace it even further. You can read Intelligent Enterprise's summary of Ventana's findings here.

BI still means analysis that provides 360-degree business views. But more and more, it also means precision analytics that generate operational insights. BI still means scheduled reports that wind up in CEOs' and CFOs' offices. But more and more, it also means quick queries generated by applications that are accessed daily -- or even hourly -- by the operational staff who actually make things happen.

Findings also indicate operational BI deployments of all sizes -- from 20 users to more than 10,000. Those small rollouts indicate that many companies are still experimenting with BI at the operational level. But it also means that, unsurprisingly, a lot of small organizations are placing themselves in the vanguard of operational analytics, right there next to the Fortune 500 companies that are accustomed to leading technological advances.

BI is growing in a way that seems paradoxical: It was once predominantly used to generate a sweeping, broad look into enterprise data and provide strategic insights that wound up on the so-called "C-level" executives' dashboards. But only more recently, as it has morphed into a tool for monitoring every minute, operational detail, has it achieved what we might call real "scale" within organizations. It has reached into the smallest business details -- and become a tool used by operations-level employees -- to become a truly big technology.