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Expanding the definition of Business Intelligence to fit modernity

The traditional definition of “Business Intelligence” is limited, restricting, and honestly, it can be improved and expanded so that businesses are able to receive the best possible information and inspiration for making business decisions.

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Expanding the definition of Business Intelligence

In order to have a conversation about expanding the core definition of “Business Intelligence,” we have to start with the traditional definition of Business Intelligence (BI).

  • Business Intelligence is the process of identifying, extracting, and analyzing business data according to associated costs and incomes.

There also the commonly discussed subset of BI, Competitive Intelligence, which is typically defined as such.

  • Competitive Intelligence is the process behind early identification of risks and opportunities in the market.

The limitations of these definitions

While these definitions are certainly useful, and applicable within their self-defined parameters, we at AGBeat believe that they are fundamentally limited to a “left-brained” perspective1. That is to say that while academia has been working on understanding and integrating multiple intelligences for nearly three decades now, business seems to have lagged behind in this regard.

Interpersonal intelligence – also known as emotional intelligence – for example, may not factor into the traditional definition of business intelligence, but few would dispute that this “soft skill” can have a profound impact on business outcomes. Likewise, because we cannot measure intuition – that is, the right-brain’s innate ability to process patterns and therefore predict outcomes – we are unlikely to include it in any competitive intelligence process, useful though it may be.

However, much the way a musical prodigy can tie together an otherwise cacophonous collection of notes into a symphony – there are in fact “futurists” out there who consistently predict business trends.

Putting forth an alternative definition of business intelligence

In talking to BI professionals of great… well… intelligence, we were surprised to find that their definition of business intelligence was thus limited. They truly seem to focus, almost exclusively, on those processes that can be meticulously measured with current technology. Certainly, the problem with this approach is that it excludes the input of those whose abilities are beyond our ken – our business virtuosos, if you will. As such, AGBeat would like to put forth an alternative definition of business intelligence.

  • True Business Intelligence is all information, systems, and processes that help people make better business decisions.

Competitive Intelligence in turn, without having to be redefined, takes on a whole new meaning. To understand that science is bigger than our understanding of it is to allow oneself the opportunity to learn from undefined genius.

At the end of the day, that is why AG exists – to deliver business intelligence to you, in all of its forms. If we need to expand the definition in order to do that, that is exactly what we will do. Don’t get us wrong, we won’t be hiring an astrologer, Tarot card reader, or any other meta-physical prognosticator any time soon. What we will be doing is continuing to seek out and deliver the information and inspiration that helps you drive your business forward each and every day.

1 Note: for the time-being, we will set aside the debate within circles of neuroscience, as to whether or not the left-right brain theory – as we have come to accept it – is correct.

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46 Comments

46 Comments

  1. Tinu Abayomi-Paul

    April 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Great article. You said “n talking to BI professionals of great… well… intelligence, we were surprised to find that their definition of business intelligence was thus limited. They truly seem to focus, almost exclusively, on those processes that can be meticulously measured with current technology.”

    I’ve also noticed that many futurists, as well as BI professionals, assume that we have all the information we need to predict the future. Not true, and allowing the important variable of flux helps us plot strategic moves much better.

    For example, one may not have been able to predict that Google+ was coming, or the eventual weight of its impact (Search Plus Your World). But when mapping the social trend, realizing it would intersect with the trend in search towards personalization and contextual matches, even without specific knowledge, people watching that space who allow for possible flux in the manifestation of their predictions prepared their audience for that ultimate intersection.

    In the late Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Talents, they worshiped change as if it were God. Not to say anyone should go that far, but allowing for the resolution of the trend formula as a fluid entity instead of a fixed one is a much better answer that clinging to a static right/wrong model of trend plotting.

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Business News

School supply retailers are also feeling the effects of COVID-19

(BUSINESS NEWS) As families gear up for more virtual learning, back-to-school retailers anticipate major losses.

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For many, the return to school this fall will mean exchanging pencil boxes and notebooks for an internet connection and virtual learning. This is an incredibly demoralizing process for those involved–including back-to-school retailers, who anticipate substantial uncertainty in the coming weeks.

CNBC’s Melissa Repko details some of the trains of thought put forward by retailers who depend on fall sales, and while nothing is for sure, even the most optimistic of estimates looks bleak with clothing giants such as Gap and American Eagle poised to encounter significant hits to stock value as the pandemic drags on.

And, with families paying closer attention to their spending habits, taking stock of what they have rather than what they want, and generally tightening their belts with no end in sight, it seems reasonable to assume that they won’t be purchasing art supplies that they don’t anticipate using for several months.

Repko mentions that “stimulus checks could put money in [spenders’] pockets”, but even this cautiously optimistic assertion comes with an implied shrug and more uncertainty. Families who find themselves coming out on top with the addition of a few thousand dollars might decide to replenish their kids’ school supplies, but it’s just as likely that they’ll put that money away for future hardships.

One detail to which back-to-school retailers are clinging onto is that of clothing needs. The pandemic has hampered many aspects of daily life, but children growing isn’t one of them; retailers are hopeful that families will still find value in buying new clothes for the school year–if for no other reason than necessity.

Similarly enough, some retailers hope that families will opt to buy smaller quantities of pricier items like laptops, tablets, and other virtual learning gear; others may decide to upgrade their existing modems or routers, making the back-to-school rush a comparable–if slightly anticlimactic–experience.

Whatever the end result for retailers, it’s no secret that the coming year will weigh heavily on everyone–retailers, parents, children, and school staff–and with discernible end to the daily positive rates for the virus, each of these members of the chain stand to be affected differently, yet equally as tragically.

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The second stimulus check may be on its way…to some

(BUSINESS NEWS) A second round of stimulus payments seems to be on the horizon for Americans, but remains held up by debates in the Senate about eligibility.

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2nd stimulus

Counting on a little extra stimulus money coming your way? You might be in luck soon!

Keyword: Might.

The Senate recently confirmed plans to include a second round of Economic Impact Payments in the HEROES Act, but the details on who will be eligible, and for how much, are still fuzzy.

They are poised to approve the act by the end of the month, and for the sake of those on unemployment, it had better go through on time. The $600 boost to weekly benefits bestowed by the CARES Act is due to expire on July 31st. After that, 31 million unemployment recipients will see their income plummet by at least 61%.

Another EIP would really come in handy for these folks, and many others. But if you made over $40,000 last year, don’t count on getting a check this time around (and if you’re also on unemployment right now, at least take comfort that the HEROES Act would extend that $600 benefit bonus until February 2020, too).

While the act has bipartisan support, both factions of the Senate have different ideas about exactly who deserves another payment. Currently, the text of HEROES has the same criteria that CARES did: individuals earning up to $75,000 will be eligible for a one-time payment of $1,200, and married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $2,400.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who just announced his support for another payment on Tuesday, has proposed setting an upper income limit for the next EIP at $40,000 per year. He has emphasized that if the act passes, the scope of the payments will be small.

Admittedly, it’s a little weird to see such a kerfuffle being made about setting more strict limits on the financial relief for individuals and families (regardless of what number was printed on their W-2) who are clearly still struggling , when $500 billion in corporate bailouts were eagerly baked into the first stimulus bill.

This debate represents tension with a legislative mindset that often hits middle class families and small business owners hard, as well as residents of exceptionally expensive areas like New York and San Francisco. Seeming not-poor on paper doesn’t necessarily equate to living comfortably when taking into account factors like debt, bills, taxation, and cost of living differences across the country – especially during a pandemic and an unprecedented economic downturn.

The first round of stimulus checks was arguably disastrous: Millions of dollars in stimulus money ended up in the hands of dead people; many payments were mistaken for junk mail and recipients threw them away; confusion about how to appeal one’s ineligibility ran rampant; and plenty of people still haven’t gotten their first one – months after they were meant to be sent out. If HEROES does pass, and does contain EIPs, then hopefully the IRS has ironed out the worst kinks in their system. All this back-and-forth about income limits in Congress is stressful enough without a complete repeat of the last payment debacle.

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Business News

To infinity and beyond…or NOT: COVID forces Bed Bath & Beyond closures

(BUSINESS NEWS) Bed Bath & Beyond will be closing 200 stores due to coronavirus. Honestly, they might’ve had it coming.

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Bed Bath Beyond store

Yet another company is having issues with their old practices. Will they pull their tails out of the fire?

As this pandemic enters the fifth official month, we have yet another company closing down at least some of its doors. Bed Bath & Beyond announced last week that approximately 200 stores, about 20% of their total store count, will be closed down over the next two years.

The President and CEO announced that “the impact of the COVID-19 situation was felt across our business during our fiscal first quarter, including loss of sales due to temporary store closures and margin pressure from the substantial channel shift to digital” shopping. By impact he’s referring to a $1.3 billion fall in sales.

According to the CEO, the company has attempted to take measures to keep their people safe while also servicing their customers. This is a completely different approach than what a number of customers have noticed in the last few years. From merchandise that makes flea market chattel look new and shiny to misinformation about product availability, this company has been floundering for a number of years.

The latest shift that the CEO is masquerading as an ‘online shopping’ shift is yet another attempt to dredge sales and lower cost. Maybe they’ll do it better this time though. Over the past few years, they have been doing this while not effectively communicating that to their clientele.

A customer might know that Bed Bath & Beyond carries an exclusive item but what they don’t know is that it’s only carried online and can’t be found in stores. It isn’t communicated to a customer until they’ve gone to a store and searched for it. One would hope that this is an easy fix that should have been made by now after customer complaints, but it hasn’t. And with their demonstrated history thus far, I won’t be holding my breath.

At this point the company has positioned itself to quickly liquidate millions of dollars in merchandise at all 955 locations that they currently have reopened across the country. Maybe this will spark a new age in this corporate cash cow that will push it forward. On a personal note, I don’t foresee that either unless a great amount of change happens. Instead, we’ll most likely be seeing a ton of “going out of business” signs in no time.

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