Business Intelligence: The Goals and Challenges in Operational Decision-Making
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Business intelligence (BI) is the interpretation and manipulation of data through data analysis technologies to provide decision makers with information that allows them to improve organizational performance. Companies are increasingly using BI technologies to make sense of the vast quantity of data they accumulate from their operational activities. The information they gain from data analysis is then used in decision-making. BI is a powerful and evolving tool giving organizations a competitive advantage. This thesis considers the goals and challenges of using BI to make decisions in operations. The goals and challenges of using BI are explored through the review of academic and industry literature. Further insight comes from two case studies, which involved interviewing employees at, Microsoft, a large technology corporation and Click Bond, a medium sized aerospace and engineering company. Both companies are increasing their BI efforts. The literature and case studies indicate BI investment and usage in organizations is generally increasing. However, firms are not reaping the full value of their BI efforts. Common short to mid-term goals are creating a data driven culture through increased management support, analytical talent development, and increasing employees ease of access to data and technical systems. Firms also seek to increase data visualization use and capabilities as well as to increase predictive and prescriptive capabilities. Long-term goals are improved operational efficiency, cost reduction, and competitive advantage. The majority of current BI efforts focus on sectors in which data are readily available. These sectors are finance and supply chain. The goals and challenges of BI vary by company based on the available data, level of technological capabilities, and the extent BI is incorporated into the organizational culture. Firms need to address these three components to achieve the full value of their BI efforts. Many firms already possess high quality data and sufficient technical systems. Thus, overcoming organizational issues are key to achieving success with BI. Further research is needed by academic and industry professionals to gain a better understanding of how the goals and challenges of BI evolve over time, how goals and challenges differ among different business sectors, and the outcomes of BI projects and if those projects are successful in achieving their initial goals in the short, medium, and long run.