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Three BI Trends Every CIO Must Understand

BI moves from the back room to the conference room and travels beyond enterprise walls, while really big data drives strategy.

Anthony Perez is having a great NBA season. While you won't find his stats on the sports page, his activities with the Orlando Magic should be influencing your business intelligence strategy. The Magic's use of BI tools represents one of the three big trends in this technology sector.

What are those trends? One is that BI is moving from a backroom IT function to an integral part of strategic business planning. Two is that companies are applying BI to more external sources--to social network conversations, for instance, to gauge customer sentiment, or to industry spending data. Three is the use of what I call RBD (really big data) to drive corporate strategy.

I spent some time with executive VP (and Business Objects founder) Alex Dayon discussing the intersection of BI and social networks, and I'll use Google Correlate as an example of really big data--but first back to the Orlando Magic.

From Back Room To Conference Room

I first spoke with Perez, the Magic's director of business strategy, about a year ago, when he was getting some major BI projects off the ground--and before the NBA season almost became a washout--and I got an update from him a week or so ago. Perez has built the Magic's BI capabilities and ultimately its business operations on a foundation of SAS Institute products, but his projects would sound familiar to any event-driven company regardless of BI product vendor.

Whether companies are managing sporting events, conferences, airline flights, or hotel rooms, their revenue opportunities exist for only a defined period. Empty seats at the arena represent lost revenues that can't be recovered, same as empty airline seats and hotel rooms. The Magic's most loyal and predictable customers are its season ticket holders, the sports franchise equivalent to frequent flyers and hotel loyalty cardholders.

The Magic is using BI to track the purchasing of season ticket customers; make exclusive offers to them before, during, and after games; and in a nod to the trend of customer enablement, provide them with an easy digital capability to resell tickets for games they can't attend.

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Next on the project list: Build out revenue opportunity and tracking programs for individual game ticket buyers using bar codes. For example, fans would be encouraged to allow their ticket bar codes to be scanned at concession stands when they make a purchase. The incentive could be entry into a drawing for courtside seats at an upcoming game. The bar code scan, the credit card info, and courtside tickets all add up to more information about the ticket holder--within the Magic's strict privacy rules.

Also on the project list is to let more senior managers do data analyses themselves rather than have to wait for reports. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and his staff have become big proponents of using BI tools to analyze opponents and chart game strategy. Pre-game BI can be detailed to every possible lineup, player scoring and rebounding matchups, and shooting percentages. Those pre-game stats can then be adjusted in real time based on opposing lineups and injuries.

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