Thursday, September 21, 2006

Computerworld Top BI Projects Rarely Face the Customer

When I saw that Computerworld ( had a special report on successful business intelligence projects (“BI Home Runs”, Computerworld, September 18, 2006), I confidently expected something similar to the InformationWeek article described in my September 13 post: that is, a major focus on improving customer treatments. So it was a bit of a shock to find that of the fifteen projects mentioned, only two--one each for call center management and campaign response analysis--related directly to individual customers. The balance involved aggregate sales information (six projects), operational data (five projects), and financial reporting (two projects).

You could argue that sales and operations analysis ultimately help each company match products, prices and processes with customer needs—so, in a sense, they do improve the customer experience. This is important if you’re trying to make the case, as we do at Client X Client, that all business decisions should be measured by their impact on customer value.

But that’s just special pleading. The more important observation is that only the call center project involved anything like real time distribution of business intelligence to a customer-facing system. (And even the call center project was about measuring customer satisfaction and agent performance; it’s not clear whether agents were receiving customer-specific recommendations.) Yet we frequently hear that “real time analytics” is the hottest trend going. Apparently this news hasn’t reached the editors of Computerworld or, more important, the people actually selecting business intelligence projects.

Let me be clear about this: I know there are some real implementations in place and do believe the concept is an important one. The point here is the implementations are apparently less common than the hype would lead us to believe. (And, yes, I am very familiar with the concept of a hype cycle.) Widespread deployment may follow, but it’s not a sure thing.

No comments: