Computers often cannot make decisions for us, but information can certainly help us make better and quicker decisions. Having the proper information, even if only to back up instinct, is critical in business, especially when you are trying to make management, investors, or shareholders comfortable with the decision.
The world wide web introduced a framework by which information and systems can be linked and traversed. When I started offering web media programming services in 1998, many people wanted to start publishing content on the internet, but not so many were not committed to organizing information in ways that brings better insight and understanding to the viewers. We also have to account for internet users' short attention spans - it seems like large volumes of information cause one to spend less time at any given source. The business user faces the same dilemna - transactions occur very rapidly and there is no time to manually look through large amounts of raw data.
Important information needs to be easy to find, and visualizations should serve the information. Even basic properties like color, typeface, and object proximity can draw a user's attention to patterns and relationships in data.
Relationships between data elements are as important as the information itself. Data modelers and architects manage these relationships in databases, but the systems that deliver the reports and visualizations need to consume the relationships and present them.
Alignment of data against the business objectives and goals is also an important function of information delivery - this is the piece that pushes a system into the function of Business Intelligence. Good information brings to your attention a process that is not performing as expected, in addition to tracking the performance of a process while it is happening. Properly aligned data enables you to look at information and move straight to an action - whether it be a reactive or proactive response to the information.
My full time job now as a Business Intelligence consultant continues to incorporate everything I enjoy helping clients with since I started consulting in 1999. I like the system administrator roles that come with implementing Business Intelligence - BI systems and infrastructure tend to be highly managed, due to the critical and sensitive nature of the information being stored and presented. I also enjoy working with end users, showing them new, clever ways of leveraging computer systems to solve problems. The end users should be involved in the entire process - we should invest time to understand their existing workflow and design the system with attention to the details that help make the final product easy to use.
Computers: Information | Workspace