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The Importance of Reflection

As I write this I am I at 36,964 feet travelling at 484 mph somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean on the way to New York, with a final location of Chicago. My destination is in the Business Intelligence Innovation Summit (#BIChicago), being run by the Innovation Enterprise.


I have been working in the area of Business Intelligence for the past 15 years and so in the eyes of some people, a mere child. The last 8 years have been working for a software vendor in Presales and although this provides the opportunity to speak to a number of different customers in all different types of industries and as much as you are seen as the trusted advisor, the reality is you still work for the software vendor!

What this role doesn’t afford you is an opportunity to reflect on the “so what?” We often ask this question when engaging with customers in a sales cycle, but when I was a customer (I spent about 6 years working for PepsiCo in the UK looking after their BI environment) I knew exactly how BI was being used and what it was delivering to the business.

So why am I travelling to Chicago? /wp-content/uploads/2015/05/276926_l_srgb_s_gl_707047.jpg

Apart from the fact that I have never been and I hear it is a great place to visit, the BI Innovation Summit offered an opportunity to hear directly from a variety of organisations, such as Netflix, Expedia, Caterpillar (to name but a few), on a wide range of topics including Data Science, Agile BI and Real Time.

I am intrigued to know whether some of the buzzwords we hear so much about, such as Big Data, Data Discovery and Advanced Analytics are really what drives these organisations. Do they really see business benefit from delivering the technologies that support these terms? If these are not the important areas what are? I often ask myself “do organisations deliver on the promise of Business Intelligence?”

Business Intelligence remains at the top of the CIO priority list for 2015 as it did for 2014 (Source: Gartner – Flipping to Digital Leadership) and, if I remember rightly, as it has done for a number of years. As someone that works for a BI vendor this is of course great to hear.

On reflection it opens a number of questions:

  • It is a top priority because it is genuinely seen as a critical focus area?
  • Has it been the highest priority because no organisation has managed to deliver?
  • Is it such an ever-changing area that the goal posts keep moving and so therefore providing a new area of focus?

I have my views on the answers, but this is one of the reasons to attend this Summit, to look for additional viewpoints that will ultimately lead to the reflection that I seek. So I travel to Chicago with my SAP hat removed and my rose tinted glasses firmly packed away, replaced with my 1980’s Top Gun specials, fully mirrored, seeking enlightenment.

Do people out there already feel enlightened? Do you have a perspective to share? It would be great to hear from you.

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