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Retail BI's "Slowest Common Denominator"

I stumbled on the transcript of a panel discussing business intelligence applications in a retail setting. The panelists, senior analytics executives at PETCO, Carter's & Ascena, had some great answers to how their BI initiatives are providing business value. Here are some of the highlights: 

Q: How do each of you actually use BI and analytics in your company?

"The person who runs business intelligence for me has a consulting background, and he refers to the four stages of an intelligent enterprise. I think first is visibility, second is information, third is insight and last [is] intelligence. He thinks we’re pretty much at stage three in that level of maturity."

Sounds like someone has been reading Competing on Analytics...

Q: What kinds of business impact are you experiencing as a result of BI?

"When you’re building an enterprise data warehouse, the real challenge is what we call the “slowest common denominator”: The slowest system providing data into the warehouse typically determines when you can get data back out of it."

One wonders if this is a feature or a bug. 

Q: Business intelligence has plenty of challenges and plenty of opportunities, so tell us about some of each.

"You know, the promise of a data warehouse is that you’ll have just one version of the truth, but there’s really no such thing. When we import data into the CRM system, for example, it changes the calculation somewhat. I think the CRM system strips out employee sales, so if somebody looks at a report, they say, 'That’s not the same thing that was in the data warehouse.' "

One of BI's greatest myths - debunked.