Focus on Business Intelligence and Knowledge Management

Business Intelligence
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Recent developments in the structural model of IT have started to emphasize intelligence and knowledge rather than the sheer volume of information contained in huge databases. Both business intelligence (BI) and knowledge management (KM) entail the understanding of your enterprise’s technical infrastructure, capabilities, and future directions and, most important of all, the business objectives driving your enterprise. Information alone can’t provide business insights. It takes an inquiring and creative mind to transmute the gigabytes of data contained in an enterprise database into knowledge and intelligence.

Certainly, collaborative tools such as Lotus Domino/Notes and Microsoft Exchange can help companies institute KM policies. Likewise, many techniques such as SQL and online analytical processing (OLAP) can help discover and report on the BI hidden in corporate data. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet that can transform your business into a supercharged BI/KM engine. In order to take advantage of this new business model, an enterprise must change its business culture. Where employees once were islands in an ocean of technology, they must now work in a collaborative, team-oriented environment where insights are shared rather than hoarded. This is especially true in light of the Web and its educational possibilities.

While IBM’s new DB2 UDB database and corresponding functionality will certainly be a big help in discovering midrange BI, there seems to be some resistance within IBM and its Business Partners to giving the AS/400 a true KM solution. While this may come as no surprise to old green-screeners, it still seems a bit unfair. BI and knowledge discovery and archiving are difficult and time-consuming to perform manually. Several companies, including Lotus and Tacit Knowledge Systems, have recently announced the availability of BI and KM “discovery” engines that will automate the discovery, sharing, and archiving of business knowledge and intelligence. Unfortunately, neither product will run on the AS/400. Lotus’s Raven uses its own proprietary server, and there is no timetable currently set to run this server on the AS/400. Tacit’s KnowledgeMail may never make the jump to the midrange community. This is very disappointing, especially considering the success of the AS/400e Dedicated Server for Domino (DSD). One would have thought that Raven, at least, would run on a DSD.

But don’t despair. In this focus section, we’re going to show you how you can use BI and KM to satisfy your customers, mine your data, and use KM to maximize the skills of your IT department. In “KM 101: What Is Knowledge Management, and Am I Already

Doing It?” Howard F. Arner, Jr. is going to surprise you with some KM concepts you may already be using and show you how to take advantage of the Web to manage enterprise knowledge. Next, in “Business Intelligence: A Necessity for Business Success,” David Morris will show you how to use the tools you already possess to find and extricate strategic data. From old standby SQL to multidimensional OLAP, David shows you why you might not even need a Raven to fly your enterprise. Eden Remme Watt then takes you on a whirlwind tour of electronic customer relationship management (e-CRM) in “Nurturing the Customer Relationship—Electronically.” Eden will show you how to use the Web to maximize customer satisfaction and gain market share. Finally, in “How to Count and Keep Your Midrange Knowledge Capital,” I’m going to show you how to make your employees business partners rather than mere workers, creating a business culture that will retain and grow strategic knowledge.

The AS/400 may sometimes seem like the poor stepchild of Lotus and IBM, but it’s still the most versatile and reliable business computing platform available today.