Magazine Article | November 16, 2011

Hidden In The Data: BI

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

By Matt Pillar, Editor In Chief, Integrated Solutions For Retailers magazine

As we analyzed the data from this year's Retail Tech Spending survey (p. 8), we quickly noticed a theme that wove its way through all the topics we covered; retailers have seen the value of BI (business intelligence), and they want more of it. BI applications have shone a bright light on opportunities across disciplines — opportunities for efficiency gain, conversion lift, inventory optimization (particularly hot heading into 2012), margin improvement, and much, much more. But the building interest in BI begs a word of caution.

It seems you can no longer find a software application that doesn't include a dashboard of some sort, a snappy-looking GUI (graphical user interface) that offers a glimpse into stats that supposedly offer decision support for business executives. These dashboards, pitched as BI, rarely offer more than historical, surface-level talking points on the business decisions they're supposed to empower. More often than not, they merely contribute to the data dissonance that many now refer to as "point solution pollution." Instead of helping to dismantle silos of data, they in effect build taller silos and lock users in a state of analysis paralysis.