Is BI boring yet?

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations author Clay Shirky says that a technology’s social effects—substitute “business” effects if you want — usually occur just when a technology has become boring. For example, email. It used to be something we talked about: “Do you have email?” “You mean the Internets?” And so on. Nowadays, everybody but John McCain uses it.

So it should be with business intelligence.

In a Harvard video, Shirky tells a story about his parents’ first date. His father borrowed his brother’s car, and on the date his mother ordered the most sophisticated drink on the menu: a root beer float. She actually hated root beer, though, and threw up in the car. Is that story about the internal combustion engine? Well, yes and no. Though those events would not have occurred without it, the boy and girl never even thought about it as events unfolded. It only enabled.

Today the only people who talk about automotive technology are backyard mechanics and industry experts. I’m happy to leave it to them.

Fortunately, we’re getting there in business intelligence with the emergence of things like LucidEra, Tableau and DataSelf. Keep the boredom coming.


  1. Dan Murray says:

    By boring do you mean useful as a tool for getting answers. Do you think data should only belong to BI specialist who charge $150/hour for services? Speaking from experience one of the three boring products you list is one of the better tools I’ve encountered in the last 20 years for probing large data sets. So, if that’s what boring means, bring on boring.

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