When an IBM computer successfully took on human Jeopardy! players in 2011, it was an achievement every bit as important as Deep Blue’s defeat of chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. More impressive, in fact, because, whilst winning at chess is essentially a mathematical challenge (albeit a massively daunting one), winning at Jeopardy! requires cognitive leaps based on huge volumes of unstructured data.

Computers have always been good at maths; only now are they becoming capable of meaningful analytics.

For businesses, blessed – or perhaps burdened – with huge and growing volumes of data, the potential for analytics is huge. Executives are naturally hungry to find out what insights they can gain from customer data, market news – even weather forecasts – that will mean they can steal a march on their competitors and meet or exceed growth targets. In times of recession, this imperative is particularly acute.

Business Intelligence (BI) is about providing data-driven insight, foresight and new knowledge via deep understanding of trending, seasonality, patterning and historical, current and predictive data about customer and enterprise. Effective BI can only flourish if its value can be liberated from organisational and technical silos that are outdated, outmoded or lost in the wider business environment. To deliver on its promise BI requires a strategy which at its heart is business-centric and the competence itself has to support more than just a technological focus: organisations need to combine analytic, IT and business skills.

The international term generally used to encapsulate the concept of “competence” in the area of analytics is the Business Intelligence Competence Centre (BICC) or Business Analytics Competence Centre (BACC). This approach brings together a number of components, resources, approaches, technical strategies and governance structures to support the growth, promotion, “selling” and effective management of business intelligence, including its projects and programmes. The combined insight and depth of BI knowledge can be brought together to operate an effective new BICC or BACC.

With deep experience in the analysis, definition and development of BICCs and the concepts around BI and Analytics Competence, IBM's Business Analytics and Optimisation Practice is ideally placed to help and support your enterprise through your own journey towards enhancing, increasing and developing your own business intelligence analytics knowledge and agility, moving you towards driving your marketplace based on deep customer, operational and organisation insight.

Financial services suppliers, for instance, are under huge pressure to find new ways to retain and grow their customer base, and many realise that the secret lies within the data that defines those very customers. Trigger marketing – timing communications to coincide with customer behaviour rather than the calendar – can be hugely powerful for boosting impact and building customer loyalty. The challenge is in understanding that behaviour and how to react to it.

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About the author

  • Alastair McCullough

    Business Intelligence Competence Centre Leader, UKI and Europe - Business Analytics and Optimisation

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