Business Intelligence in the Cloud: When the Internet is the Data Source

Posted: 10th April 2011

Something compelling is happening in business intelligence. Most enterprise systems have been moving into the cloud – CRM systems like, ERP systems like NetSuite, and customer support sytems like RightNow.

Business intelligence (BI) systems have been among the last to move into the cloud – for many reasons such as data being physically hard to effectively move into offsite data centers as well as [sometimes perceived] secrecy of data. Recently we’ve seen companies like GoodData establish hosted BI services where users can upload datasets or connect directly to other hosted systems like

Now the next compelling step is when we realize that the big breakthrough is not to put traditional BI software in the cloud but to realize that the most compelling data source in itself is the internet. The amount of true business intelligence we can extract from the “open internet” – in everything from government filings, mainstream news, blogs, twitter, etc. is staggering. And don’t think about this as navigating our way to the right article (i.e. glorified Google News) but real analysis – find patterns, trends, clusters, outliers, anomalies, etc.

BI have for a very long time (40 years?) been focused on aggregating last quarters sales, marketing, finance, etc. data – and let users extrapolate future trends from that. And frankly that’s about as compelling an analysis that can be done based on say historical sales data.

Now if I had access to the internet/cloud as a data source and could in real time ask questions like these – wouldn’t that be business intelligence at whole new level?

  • What are the most important business initiatives of my customers?
  • Where are my customers expanding?
  • Which of my customers are facing problems?
  • What are my competitors planning to do over the next 90 days?
  • What products are gaining momentum in the market place?
  • What suppliers are associated with my competitors?
  • What is happening in my market segment?

That’s what you get when you move BI into the cloud and let the key data source in itself be the internet.

Exciting times!