From Smarter Cities to Smarter Businesses

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

Six Questions You Need to Ask Before Deploying Business Intelligence

Make sure you provide the right BI capabilities to the right people.

There's usually a gap between what the average end user thinks of as intelligence in the business and what the IT industry call business intelligence. Most end users are looking for something that is more akin to a dashboard that tracks activity across the business in real time. What they usually get from the IT department is an overly complex application that is based on a snapshot in time that is probably no longer relevant.

With that issue in mind, it'll be interesting to watch how the next installment of IBM's Smarter Cities campaign unfolds. Rather than simply being about how to use IT better, IBM today is actually rolling out a new Intelligent Operations Center platform that has been specifically built to meet the information requirements of government executives.

According to Karen Parrish, IBM vice president for industry solutions for the public sector, beyond being yet another BI application, the IBM Intelligent Operations Center can be connected to thousands of sensors that can be deployed on everything from traffic lights to police cars. The idea is that all the information can then be synthesized by the Intelligent Operations Center to give municipalities a real command-and-control center, as opposed to command centers that have no real control over anything because they have no actual relevant information.

Like businesses everywhere, Parrish says cities are trying to gain more control over their operations and many of them are leveraging federal stimulus dollars to achieve those goals.

But what's really potentially interesting about this is how long will it be before IBM applies the same concept to any number of vertical industries? Parrish says that's the next logical conclusion given that many businesses have the same basic needs as municipalities. The problem is that there really hasn't been a turnkey product that companies could really buy to accomplish this goal. Instead, they had to rely on expensive IT integration teams to build it from scratch. Obviously, offerings such as the Intelligent Operations Center won't eliminate the need for expensive consultants altogether, but they should bring the mean time to execution for these types of projects down to something that most business executives might consider to be reasonable.

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