While flying an aeroplane is an exhilarating experience, it requires constant and careful monitoring of the cockpit controls. The instruments in the cockpit provide the pilot with accurate information about the fuel consumption, temperatures and pressures of the engine, positioning and banking of the aircraft, its set course versus actual direction, air versus ground speed, writes Yolanda Komen, BI manager at Intellient. 

The combination of all this data and ability to quickly analyse and turn it into useful information is crucial.
The same principles apply to business. An organisation must constantly monitor its “dashboard”, rigorously apply business intelligence policies and meticulously follow business performance management methodologies to ensure effective, immediate troubleshooting and realtime, fact-based decision-making.
If problems arise, management is immediately aware of it and corrective steps can be taken. If direction appears to be wrong, information is readily at hand to steer the organisation back on track.
The importance of business intelligence to the organisation will continue to grow, and will reach new heights during 2006 as a result of the following five market trends.

Consolidation
Many organisations deploy business intelligence using a mixture of technologies, but this results in an overall increase in total cost of ownership.
Applying more than one business intelligence tool requires support staff capable of managing each tool, individual maintenance contracts and separate licensing agreements across the range of vendors.
Business intelligence is therefore moving to a consolidated technology space where tools from one vendor more broadly cater to the organisation’s needs, at a reduced total cost of ownership.

Compliance
Corporate governance regulations such as King II and Sarbanes-Oxley, as well as other regulations that include the Financial Intelligence Centre Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, are making greater demands on information and data management.
Business intelligence is moving faster towards explicitly supporting compliance initiatives through improved data quality, master data management and overall business performance management.

Strategic
There is a clear move towards business intelligence becoming a strategic endeavour in organisations.
Business intelligence tools and methodologies no longer focus on simply improving reporting capabilities. Rather, the objective is now to add value to the organisation and better enable business performance management.
Key performance indicators and business drivers are managed with greater ease through improved management of information. As a result, business intelligence is increasingly capable of strategically directing and managing the company.

Scorecarding
As a component of business intelligence, performance scorecarding is no longer being applied using a silo approach to information.
Rather, organisations are operating with a broader business picture, readily sharing information across departments, working with cleaner data and making greater use of their information to perform strategically.

Master data management
Finally, master data management is playing an increasingly important role in the business intelligence arena.
Focusing on the quality of data and ensuring that master data is managed effectively makes business intelligence and business performance management all the more accessible to management.
It is now the differentiator between good business intelligence solutions and great ones.