Uses of visualization in business analytics include market segmentation analysis and factor analysis to define new audience segments based on psychographics. Visualization is often also used for pricing analysis to determine how elasticity can vary by product and area being sold into.
6. What are the steps involved in effective decision making and how can business intelligence assist in helping executive and managers make better strategic and operational decisions?
Effective decision making inherently must take into account many factors that range from the highly quantifiable to the qualitative if risk is to be minimized and the best possible alternative chosen. BI-based applications, tools and technologies have been designed specifically with these needs in mind of business decision makers. The steps involved in effective decision making include problem rationalization or the defining of the problem parameters, the definition of boundary conditions of the decision, selection of the alternative, execution of the strategy and finally, gaining feedback on how well the decision matched with the anticipated result. BI provides insights and guidance into each of these steps by providing greater clarity and insight into problem rationalization, more precisely defining boundary conditions and seeking to optimize the selection of the best possible strategy. From a problem rationalization standpoint, BI applications are often used for determining the probability of a given series of anticipated events taking place or not, and also putting qualitative factors into context. Companies also use BI applications to monitor the progress of a strategy over time, often using real-time analytics to measure performance using company-wide KPIs and metrics. Finally BI plays a very critical role in decision making as it provides insights and feedback into what areas of the strategy succeeded or failed, and why. The use of BI to analyze the effectiveness and execution of any decision is possible if KPIs and metrics of performance are first defined at the outset of the process. Often companies will post the results of their strategies on scorecards accessible from their Internet sites to provide employees with an update on how process is being made. This is an invaluable aspect of BI as it provides companies an opportunity to inform their employees quickly about the impact of decisions.
7. The book No Place to Hide discusses several privacy issues related to the collection of data on individuals. Do you think that the environment described in the book reflects a good balance of the government" need to know" and individual privacy? Why or why not?
The balance of the government's "need to know" and the fundamental right of citizens for individual privacy is well discussed in the book No Place to Hide and highlights how through data mining, data warehouses and BI tools, the government has unrivaled access into everyone's life today whether they like it or not. With the terrorist attacks of 2001 serving as a horrible catalyst for many surveillance and tracking activities, it seems from the book that the U.S. intelligence community is at times overcompensating for missing the cues of activities that led to those attacks. The book paints a grim portrait of what life is like for many Americans who have names that are identical or even comparable to criminals and terrorists. Most chilling about this book is the potential is shows for mistaken identity to completely change a person's life. Given the fact that America is being increasingly infiltrated by extremists from other nations and also the growing threat of internal terrorism, the activities of the government are justified. Where the ethical line gets crossed however is how companies are using this data to penalize a person for speeding in a rental car, attempting to charge them for additional costs due to where a rental car is taken, and attempting to unethically charge them more based on using this data. The fact that Americans are more watched than ever before may well have averted more terrorist attacks; no one can know for certain except those given the responsibility of managing that area of national defense. it's necessary in these times, yet the use of this data for unethical and often unscrupulous financial gain is not. The companies attempting to use data at that level to literally steal from customers need to be heavily fined and the data taken away from them to avert future use.
8. What is the difference between Business Intelligence and Business Performance Management? Describe the BPM process that links strategy to execution and provide an example of how the process would work in a real world business.
In many respects Business Intelligence (BI) is a contributor to Business Performance management (BPM) strategies as the former comprises a series of technologies and techniques for analyzing business data to be used in decisions. BI is experiencing exceptional growth due to the innovation occurring in this area with regard to historical, real-time and predictive analytics, all of which are essential for planning and executing business strategies more efficiently. In contrast, Business Process Management (BPM) is focused on the definition of a strategic objective or goal, the selection of KPIs and metrics of performance to evaluate the progress of an organization to its goals, and a definition of interventions that managers need to make based on performance feedback. As can be seen from this progression of tasks in BPM, BI-based techniques and technologies make significant contributions to BPM-based initiatives in companies. An example of how BPM is used for linking strategy to execution is in the launch of a new product across all distribution channels a company sells through. BPM-based approaches would define KPIs and metrics of performance that would quickly show if the goals and objectives of the strategy were being met. Often when new products are being introduced, companies will often create goals in the sales, marketing and promotion, service, operations and customer loyalty areas, with each being measured continually and reported on balanced scorecards. Using the balanced scorecard approach companies are also more likely to be able to manage unforeseen events faster as they will have real-time feedback on a strategy's execution over time. Finally the BPM-based approach applied to a new product introduction will also provide valuable feedback on how customers perceive the products' strengths and weaknesses, which is invaluable feedback.
9. Poor data quality can be introduced into a business intelligence system in a number of ways. Identify and describe the paths that "bad" quality can travel into your system and steps you could take to prevent or correct the bad data.
There are many factors that lead to poor data quality being introduced into a business intelligence system. By far the most common are in the areas of data capture or data entry, lack of application and system integration, lack of quality management standards over data warehouse processes and procedures, and lack of compliance to internal standards for database management. All of these have a major impact on the quality of business intelligence produced by BI systems. Starting with lack of quality in data capture and data entry, companies need to more routinely audit the quality of data being captured and input into their systems if they are to increase the quality of the BI systems. Often keyboarding errors, lack of complete capture of datasets, and lack of consistency on coding all bring errors into a BI system. The lack of application and system integration can seriously impact the quality of BI results as well, as often only a partial set of results will be sent from a database query for example. Having tighter integration at the application level can alleviate this problem. Finally the lack of quality management and compliance can have a very serious effect on the performance of a BI system and can drastically reduce its functionality over time. The adherence to quality and compliance standards will also ensure that the data will be reliable, scalable and accurate over the long-term. This is why many companies implement quality management and compliance standards on their ETL workflows as well; it drastically reduces errors and increases the value of the data and analysis over time. All of these factors taken together need to be continually monitored and evaluated for a company's BI investments to pay off over the long-term. Many companies will do audits of each of these areas to ensure a very high level of performance is consistently achieved.
10. Choose either real-time data analytics or artificial neural networks and explain how they change the focus of traditional business intelligence. Give examples to support your explanation.
The use of neural networks are changing the focus of traditional business intelligence by creating entirely new opportunities for companies to understand, in detail, how their decisions and operations impact their suppliers, partners, stakeholders and the broader environment over time. Neural networks also provide constraint-based intelligence and logic for companies whose BI strategies encompass a wide range of product and service options. As a result neural networks…