Chatting with Albert Einstein About Business Intelligence
What would the most intelligent person on earth have to say about Business Intelligence?
By: Elad Israeli
Apr. 10, 2011 11:00 AM
Albert Einstein is arguably one of the most intelligent people who have ever lived. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to chat with him about business intelligence? I have.
Mr. Einstein, thank you for taking the time to talk to me today. I work for a business intelligence vendor called SiSense and I would love to hear your thoughts on a subject you know more about than anyone else – intelligence.
"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
Modest as always! However, instead of talking about personal intellect, I would love to get your perspective on what we call ‘business intelligence’.
“One may say the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.”
That is exactly why I’m talking to you. While great technological and functional strides have been made in the business intelligence space, no one has really been able to figure it out yet. Maybe you can help us out?
“Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal. It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity”
Mmm, right. But business intelligence technology is not exactly the atom bomb.
“Concern for man and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations.”
Tough crowd. Okay, let me try to clarify. Business intelligence describes the ability of a business to make informed decisions based on facts inherent in its data. Experience shows that the challenge in achieving this can be easily tracked down to the technology being used behind this ability. Innovators in the space place a lot of focus on this, but I think they find it challenging to explain to the average person why it is so important.
“Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.”
So what you’re saying is that the technology doesn’t matter, if you cannot explain its benefits in simple terms. Fair enough. So what if I told you that modern business intelligence technology simplifies the ability of decision makers to gain knowledge and insight into their business operations and through that make better informed decisions?
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
But you cannot disagree that following business metrics is a good idea.
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
I guess that’s true. So, are you saying we should give up on the whole idea of business intelligence being realistic?
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one… Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
But that is exactly what business intelligence means - never stop questioning. However, without getting the occasional answer, this could prove to be quite a tedious challenge, right?
“The devil has put a penalty on all things we enjoy in life. Either we suffer in health or we suffer in soul or we get fat.”
I guess I could lose a few pounds, but what part would technology play in all this?
“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
That is why new technology is constantly being thrown into the business intelligence mix. Modern chipsets like CPU and RAM, Columnar databases, NoSQL databases, etc. These technologies did not exist before, and they're all being used to make business intelligence more approachable.
“Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler.”
Having things simple is important, no doubt, but there is also the issue of business intelligence costs going through the roof.
“Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.”
We indeed encounter people dropping loads of cash on something that could be easily done in Excel. Isn’t that insane?
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Interestingly, it indeed seems like many business intelligence vendors just re-wrap their old products based on technology invented before you were born. You end up paying for the same thing again and again, without really getting any value back. How can new business intelligence vendors succeed where the others have failed?
“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”
This was a fascinating chat. I’d like to thank you for your time.
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once."
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