Business Intelligence — Not Just Another Pretty Chart

Business intelligence is one of those terms referenced frequently and expected daily but execution is complicated.  Business intelligence is reflected in integration and execution as seen with many of our airline systems today.   When a flight is delayed we get notified before we leave the office, if the delay is significant enough we are re-booked on another flight and notified without ever having to speak to an individual.  Our mobile device gets the update at the same time (sometimes faster) than the display boards at the gate.

Many times when we hear business intelligence we think of dashboards. The dashboard is just a summary display of critical data from which we can make a key decision on how to proceed.  Business metrics, social site postings, weather events, financial anomalies or news events can all be part of the critical data, similar to the airlines who have set the bar for making adjustments when customers are impacted on the ground.  Let’s begin with Mears Group…

Market View:  Improving services to clients with easy analytics 

Watson Analytics helped Mears Group analyze data to better target rapid response and planned maintenance services to 1 million homes in the UK. Before implementing Watson Analytics Professional, they used spreadsheets, which meant they had guess at trends and then work backwards to validate their assumptions. “With IBM Watson Analytics, we simply upload a set of unstructured data into the cloud, and the solution automatically detects hidden trends, and suggests additional types of analysis we might want to perform,” says John Brett, IT and Business System Director at Mears Group:

Mears Pic 



PC Magazine:  The Best Self-Service Business Intelligence (BI) Tools of 2018,2817,2491954,00.asp

PC Magazine has summarized the top 10 self-service business intelligence tools.  This matrix shows one of the business intelligence resources IBM is giving away to accredited academic institutions as an Editor’s Choice.  Frequently faculty talk about using this in the classroom but it still appears faculty and students at most academic institutions have no idea they have free access to this powerful tool gaining an Editor’s Choice status, “IBM has put its Watson Analytics engine on the map with loads of marketing combined with a powerful analytics engine riding on top of an excellent natural language querying tool. This is a great overall platform that easily garners our Editor’s Choice designation.” Here is the link for all faculty and all students at accredited academic institutions to use this resource:


Big Data and Analytics Hub on Business Intelligence

The Big Data and Analytics Hub has changed significantly.  It has a category specifically around business intelligence.  Included are blog posts, use cases, podcasts and the ability to segment the information available by industry specialties.   In addition to the predictive analytics the streaming analytics and IOT options are easy to navigate too once business intelligence and predictive analytics have provided a foundation for expansion into those complimentary areas.  Here is a snapshot of some of the assets available:



IBM Academic Initiative Business Intelligence Assets

The IBM Academic Initiative is the main program IBM uses to provide access to IBM resources at no charge to all faculty and all students at accredited academic institutions.  The resources are to be used for teaching, learning and non-commercial research purposes.  This is worth repeating as I weekly hear multiple schools say they had no idea this was available.  Here is a 2:34 minute video showing how easy it is to use these resource for free in this self-service program:

IBM Academic Initiative Getting Started Video – YouTube

onthehub feb


Oct 5, 2017 – Uploaded by Valinda Kennedy

The basics of getting started with the IBM Academic Initiative program that gives IBM resources for free …


IBM Skills Academy Business Intelligence Career Path

We continue to see the business value companies of all sizes are searching for candidates to hire with skills around business intelligence.  In addition, current workers see advantages to getting skills in this area because of opportunities for growth because of the market demand.   The IBM Skills Academy is an enhanced academic program providing at a discount to academic institutions which includes a week of faculty on-site training, pre-built curriculum, cloud infrastructure for labs, lab exercises, certification testing and badge credentials across multiple career paths. The career paths include: Security Intelligence Engineer, Cloud Services Developer, Data Scientist being updated with Artificial Intelligence Analyst recently added and Blockchain Engineer in development.   The IBM Skills Academy Business Intelligence Analyst along with the IBM Skills Academy Predictive Analytics Analyst career paths were developed because of global needs for business analytics skills sets.   Here is the outline and abstract link for the Business Intelligence Career Path:

Learning Modules

Module I – Analytics Overview

Business Analytics Overview, Trends, Case Studies

Understanding Business Intelligence and Analytics

Module II – Business Analytics Foundations

Business Intelligence Overview

Reports and Metadata models

Module III – Business Intelligence Analyst

Introduction of Reporting Application

List Reports and Crosstab Reports

Data graphics (charts, numerals, visualization)

Parameters and prompts

Query models and relationships (using SQL)

Advanced dynamic reports

Data sorting using effective prompts

Report distribution through Bursting

Data user interaction with HTML

Active Reports

IBM Open Badges

Business Intelligence Analyst 2018: Explorer | Mastery Award

Associated Job Roles

Predictive Analytics Modeler

Data Scientist

Data Engineer

Download Flyer

Download Course Abstract


IBM Institute for Business Value Study: The evolution of process automation — Moving beyond basic robotics to intelligent interactions

As we leverage IBM’s research on a global basis to understand clients current enablement, positioning and plans for key technology execution for current, future and long term business objectives, the no-charge IBM Institute of Business Value studies provide an excellent source for gathering and sharing the findings.  This study covered the impact of intelligent automation including predictive analytics on operational processes. This is one example from the study demonstrating the linkages:

ibv feb


BARC Score Enterprise BI and Analytics Platforms

Several faculty have commented on seeing industry publications rank the IBM resources available to them and their students, they have asked for it to be highlighted more.  The below summary provides BARC reporting on a range of IBM analytics assets available for academic use.  With so much available to our academic partners the below quote summaries the value in the market specifically on business intelligence resources with most made available in the IBM Academic Initiative and the IBM Skills Academy programs.

“The most commonly referenced portion of the report is the BARC Score graphic, which ranks each vendor along two axes: Portfolio Capabilities and Market Execution. Each vendor is assigned to a market segment based on its combined scores along the two axes. These segments are: entrants, specialists, challengers, market leaders and dominators. IBM has been named a market leader in the report, covering a broad range of BI technologies and services within the enterprise.  In both the graphic and the vendor description, the IBM portfolio—including IBM Watson Analytics, IBM Cognos Analytics, IBM Planning Analytics, IBM SPSS and IBM Data Science Experience—gained very favorable reviews. IBM had one of the most capable portfolios and the highest single score on Market Execution.”



IBM Global University Programs

One key site to bookmark is the updated IBM Global University Programs page.  Faculty and students will find a summary of key resources including many listed above as well as others including information categorized into 8 technology topics, information on university awards and research along with jobs and internships.  As faculty and students take advantage of the new format, look for the faculty and student tabs to segment the areas in one click for what may be of most interest as you explore the programs.  Here is a snapshot of the page on the above link:



February was a great month with SIGCSE 2018 and meeting with so many new schools and faculty interested in doing more with industry and taking key steps to begin or expand relationships with IBM.  Thank you for all the progress we made this month creating specific plans on getting business intelligence, security intelligence, artificial intelligence and a host of other hot skills from the discussion stage to them being taught in the classroom.

This has been a short month but a big month for engagement on plans to get new skills and curriculum into new classes (just check out some of the course catalogues) and increased industry collaboration in current programs.  We started with our IBM client Mears Group PLC, so it is only fitting they would providing the closing inquiry, “We were really surprised by the questions it promoted us. Your data would go in and suddenly 6-7 English type phrases– would you like to see this in your data?”

So, would you?  That’s when the fun begins for faculty, students and absolutely for businesses that don’t want just another pretty chart!



LinkedIn:  Valinda Kennedy

Twitter:  vscarbro


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s