Quite coincidentally, both in the Dutch professional journal ‘Automatiseringgids’ as well as in DM Review, several articles appeared about the convergence of BPM and BI. These observations were based on IDS Scheer’s ProcessWorld-conference in Orlando and the BI Summit in Amsterdam. The main message was that BI needed to be much more incorporated into business processes, BI is there to support running and managing your business processes.
I was stunned by this amazing new insight…. NOT!!! On the contrary, I started to cry out loud and colleagues asked me if I was doing OK.
My fellow BI-professionals, you’re making it easier anytime for me to bring forward my statement you should know by now. The articles I am referring to here, prove and support some recurring observations:
- We deceive ourselves by our TLA’s which we don’t understand: OBI, BI, CPM, BPM (performance or process management) to name a few. If dicussion stalls, we invent a new TLA or an adjective to it (e.g. ‘pervasive’, ‘enterprise’, ‘operational’, ‘agile’) to pump it up.
- Arguments and statements are technology centric, not business centric: “BI and BPM-suites (i.e. technology) need to merge, in order to achieve ’embedded BI'”, whatever that may be.
- Incompetence and poor analysis: effects and benefits are interpreted wrongly but nevertheless applied to the BI-space. The resulting statements are simply BS.
These examples illustrate to me the fundamental lack of what design science calls kernel theories. Kernel theories stem from natural or social sciences and govern both design requirements as well as the design process itself. Note that ‘design’ in this context encompasses the entire chain from conception to implementation.
So, obvious next question, what are the relevant kernel theories for BI? For example,
- Systems theory and cybernetics
- General management theories
- Decision making
Systems theory introduces the concept of a system and a higher-level system that controls it. Applied to organizations, it describes operational processes and management processes. General management theory introduces concepts like strategy, management & control, and management accounting to name a few. Decision making looks into decision strategies, context effects and cognitive style to name a few.
If you take these fundamental theories into account, it becomes clear that BI and managing business processes (to use our own language) were 2 sides of the same coin, from the very first beginning. So be critical, teach it right and don’t get caught in the bandwagon.