Data-Driven Decision Making: Beyond Today’s BI

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Hjalmar Gislason, the founder and CEO of DataMarket. DataMarket‘s data hub helps enterprises understand their business environment, putting syndicated, proprietary and public data at professionals’ fingertips.

Business intelligence is too focused on internal data and doesn’t help decision-makers understand their external business environment.

When you’re driving a car, you spend most of the time looking out the windshield: What’s ahead? When to turn? Any unexpected obstacles in your way? Every now and then you glance at the dashboard. But that’s just to check how fast you’re going, whether you’ve got enough gas and that the engine isn’t running too hot.

Corporate intelligenceIn BI, it seems to be the other way around. BI traditionally focuses on data from internal systems, providing a view on internal operations and past performance. Data on the external business environment and the future belongs to the fragmented world of corporate, strategic or market intelligence with their proprietary databases, pivot tables, PDF reports and custom research delivered in static slide decks.

In other words, decision-makers in the enterprise spend a lot of their time looking at the dashboard — sometimes literally — but only have a blurry and fragmented view of their surroundings: the markets they operate in, the economies they belong to and the demographics they target.

There is a lot of good data out there, from public and proprietary sources alike. Government databases are opening up and contain more valuable information than most people realize. Syndicated research — trackers, forecasts and surveys — is plentiful but hard to find and quickly gain insight from. And data from custom research, whether internal or from research vendors, is usually delivered in static formats. As a result, too much of it ends up sitting on hard drives somewhere with no good way to search, compare or access later – let alone to keep an eye on updates to the underlying data.

This is fundamentally inefficient. It means that decisions aren’t made with reference to the best available data; time is lost digging through piles of static documents; and companies are unable to make the most of the sizable investments they’ve already made in market intelligence.

I believe this is the next frontier for intelligence systems. The task is to provide a window on companies’ external business landscape, expanding BI as it has traditionally been used to encompass the rest of the universe of corporate intelligence.

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