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Future Business Intelligence Support Model for Data Warehousing

Currently, business intelligence support is often relegated to is-it-working support — if the system is down, the support personnel get it running again. This support model (along with vendor pricing schemes) has prevented broad adoption of business intelligence. This support model is like a sit-down restaurant that has a limited menu.

For broad adoption of business intelligence to occur, you need a support model that enables collaboration. The necessary technology does exist — but no one is really combining data warehousing, business intelligence, and collaboration software. Some early adopters are venturing down this path, and some vendors are beginning to introduce limited collaboration functionality into their products.

Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together toward an intersection of common goals — for example, an intellectual endeavor that’s creative in nature — by sharing knowledge and building consensus.

Collaboration doesn’t require leadership and can sometimes bring better results through decentralization and egalitarianism. In particular, teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition, and reward when facing competition for finite resources.

Collaboration technology has an enormous role in driving user interactions in the areas of entertainment and problem-solving. Collaboration in the technology sector refers to a wide variety of tools that enable groups of people to work together through asynchronous and synchronous methods of communication.

Examples of collaboration technology include synchronous Web conferencing, using tools such as Microsoft Live Meeting or Cisco Webex, and asynchronous collaboration by using software such as Microsoft SharePoint. Additionally, Instant Messaging platforms such as those from Yahoo!, AOL, ICQ, and Microsoft enable peer-to-peer and group forum collaboration.

If properly implemented, a collaborative work environment can assist companies in making work dramatically easier. Not only can a group cheaply communicate and test, but the wide reach of the Internet allows such groups to easily form in the first place, even among niche interests, creating virtual communities online.

The Internet has enabled low-cost and nearly instantaneous sharing of ideas, knowledge, and skills by leveraging collaborative technologies such as wikis and blogs.

In the future, you’ll see concepts that are currently emerging from leading Internet sites such as Amazon, Facebook, YouTube, Google, and Wikipedia become commonplace for business intelligence solutions. It has to happen; it’s such a natural support model. And collaboration is all about sharing knowledge and building consensus: Business intelligence is about gaining knowledge — the missing link is sharing and building consensus.

As companies move to the next phase of business intelligence, in which everyone can have access to the data that’s important to them, the need for collaboration is growing. Users will need to support users, both internal and external to an enterprise.

Internal support could come from regional managers trying to isolate shared costs and quickly collaborating with a functional analyst in finance to determine the correct slice or drill to perform on their data.

External support could come from a customer whom you’ve enabled to surf through his or her orders, who needs some quick assistance on how to combine your enterprise’s data with other data that he or she has — say, from his or her bank — and merge that data within a GoogleDoc. Such support isn’t way out in the future.

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