Back in the 1980’s, they used to refer to Business Intelligence (BI) as EIS (Executive Information Systems) or DSS (Decision Support Systems).
These were rather cryptic names to disguise what were in essence programming languages simplified so that the executives with the skillsets and willingness to learn could build their own reports. Such executives were few and far between, and in reality they would mostly employ Business Analysts to do this for them.
Comparing these programs to the tools available today is rather like comparing the iPhone to an old rotary dialling phone. There really is no valid comparison!
Aside from ease of use, DSS and EIS systems were of limited value as, at best, they could really only tell you what happened, whereas these days any systems worth their salt will tell you what is not happening, and what should be happening.
Any good BI tool today will enable users to easily view all aspects of their business, and then break that data down so they can actually use the data to enhance the business. A few examples might be:
- Which of my top 100 customers are not buying my best selling products?
- Which of my customers are buying the shampoo but not buying the conditioner?
- What are the key characteristics that differentiate my top performing sales people? For example, do they make more calls?, do they sell more per call? or are they selling the more profitable products?
Feel free to put forward your own ideas about an appropriate acronym for BI tools. Mine is PET – Performance Enhancing Tool.