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The FICO Labs blog focuses on innovation, technology and the role of analytic sciences in today’s business world. We’ll share our perspectives, vision, successes and challenges in the areas of predictive analytics, Big Data, decision optimization, cloud computing and Big Marketing.

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Has Business Intelligence Hit the Big Data Wall?

The Wall
By Benjamin Baer

Analytics is becoming a competitive necessity to businesses. Knowing what decisions to make, when to make them, and how to optimize them for maximum impact is the difference between an industry leader or an also ran.  Whether the decision is about pricing, packaging (it’s only within the last ten or so years that technology companies have considered the color of the new PC or consumer device), new market penetration, or new products, it’s about making business decisions consistent with well-articulated and understood strategies backed up by data. 

Today, many businesses are turning to tried-and-true Business Intelligence (BI) software to solve their analytics challenges. BI is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of software applications used to analyze an organization’s raw data. As a discipline, BI is made up of several related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting.

But when it comes to Big Data, is BI hitting a wall? While many traditional BI vendors have moved to adopt clustered data solutions like Hadoop and MapReduce for faster data query, traditional BI methodologies still lack the tools, infrastructure and applications support necessary to sift through massive data warehouses, identify meaningful insights and ignore the noise, and integrate analytics into the actual business processes at the lowest levels of an organization.

Fundamentally missing is an understanding that decisions – whether product related, customer facing or simply business metrics – are made at the top, the bottom and everywhere in between in modern enterprises.  Many people maintain the illusion that important decisions still only occur in the C-Level suite.  However this is simply no longer true.  In the past, empowering executives alone with analytically driven insight was arguably insufficient, but certainly today it’s inarguably insufficient.  A data-driven organization must be data-driven from the most senior to the least senior members of the team.  This is the frontier of decision management.

At the heart of decision management is rules:  rules or thresholds proactively established that structure business goals, risk, promotions, and opportunities.  These rules provide the framework for applying analytics.  They provide a baseline for all decisions throughout an organization – they ensure consistency in customer engagements, go-to-market activities, financial interactions and virtually every other business related interchange.  Then, instead of analyzing data to identify trends, gaps or synergies, analytics professionals can run models based on “if, then” statements within the rules frameworks.  This enables every possible decision scenario to be simulated and optimized, and consistently implemented throughout an organization.

The big revolution is in how much easier it is today to integrate these optimized decisions into business applications.  By leveraging cloud-based infrastructure and rapid application development tools, developers and data scientists can cut the development, testing and deployment time for customized analytic applications from months to just a few weeks.  And, by componentizing the analytics and models, and codifying business engagement rules, development time gets faster the more applications an enterprise develops.  By making it easier, less expensive and faster than ever to integrate analytics into business applications the true power and agility of data can be quickly realized by business of any size.  

Decision management provides the tools, infrastructure and application support, that BI doesn’t. It enables businesses to integrate analytics into business processes, and get the most out of Big Data.  Does this mean that BI won’t make it over the wall? Not alone. To address Big Data challenges, modern enterprises need decision management.

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Pat Hennel

I would argue that the C-suite is almost never the one actually analyzing the data. It's the managers, the directors, the people who use that information in their day-to-day job. They are the ones who turn Big Data into big insights and use that knowledge to change things within the company.


Business people are not realizing that big data is not only a way to solve there problem, it possibly can become one of the investment trend in next decade. The information accumulated and stored have not been paid that much attention since traditional business analytics focus on the secondary value of data; however, I guess more people would realize that data itself is of great value.


Thanks for sharing amazing information on Big Data. Big data is the term for a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications and I think business reporting tools and reporting software helps a lot to successfully manage the business.

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