With the emergence of the Cloud and the world moving fast towards an API ecosystem for accessing pretty much anything, major enterprises are re-examining their information infrastructures as they look to deliver the best intelligence or data to their executives - wherever it originates and whatever format it is in.
While much excitement in BI is currently around visualization tools for disparate corporate data like Birst or Tableau, large organisations are now also focusing on how they can get a single view across their fragmented array of content sources, with two key trends emerging:
1 Unified intelligence - integration of sources via one central hub
Unifying all content within one single hub and centralised topic library gives control to the end-user and enables seamless discovery of valuable sources which are often unknown and siloed - whether premium content, research, global news and increasingly internal documents.
2 Integrated search – analyzing full source to extract true context
Content needs to be analyzed in full at source to gain true context - relying on meta tags provided by sources is not enough and inflexible in a world where topics of interest change quickly. Integrated search of the content itself allows the end-user to find business intelligence faster and in the way they actually want to work.
The Problem - Information Overload
Executives today are faced with an overload of available content – news, analysis, data, internal discussions, and free-to-air content from the web and social sources.
Most companies also subscribe to multiple premium content providers – but each provider typically serves up its content through its own “walled garden” that users have to separately go and visit, each coupled with their own bespoke definitions for tagging content.
And that's not even considering the potential value of content generated by your own teams - often the result of extensive research and yet resides in silos unknown to the rest of the organization, a problem being raised more and more.
This leads to considerable inefficiencies, with key (and often highly expensive) content going unnoticed and excessive time spent on information discovery by either knowledge managers or end-users who typically "default" to one source they know best and ignore the rest.
The Solution - Unified Intelligence
"Unified Intelligence" is the emerging trend towards unlocking the value hidden in this array of content sources - multiple sources but one view for more efficiently analyzing and delivering the most relevant content to teams.
Enterprises are looking for flexible, cloud-based solutions where they can securely plug in all available content (internal, external premium, external free-to-air) and organize it all automatically into a central topic taxonomy that they control - with analytics identifying and delivering the intelligence signals most relevant to executive teams with rapidly changing project requirements, helping drive their day-to-day business decision-making.
Integrated search for true intelligence
Alongside the unification trend, in the RFPs we now see (from professional services organizations in particular) content needs to be analyzed in full against a custom and changing topic set that makes sense to their teams – matching key clients, competitors, products, divisional structures, regional groupings and so on.
A traditional approach for combining sources has been to create manual rules for each source that attempt to match metadata tags against your own topics. This is labor intensive and highly inflexible, especially if you want to create new topics frequently as end-user projects or areas of interest change regularly. Truly extracting business intelligence requires analysis of actual source content itself to identify context against your specific topic requirements - not relying on inconsistent layers of metadata.
Within a central topic library approach and as APIs for connecting content sources improve, it becomes largely irrelevant if each content set already has different or mismatched tagging. Enterprises can simply maintain one clean taxonomy and knowledge managers or end-user can create their own personal topics at any time - with confidence that full content from all connected sources will be indexed against these their topics, enabling them to discover the best intelligence via just a single query.
ROI benefit for content charges – and testing new sources
A side-benefit, but an important ROI point, is that central knowledge teams can also then apply enterprise-wide usage analytics across all sources – invaluable data when it comes to assessing which sources are being used the most and supporting renewal discussions, often with increasing usage as great sources become discovered more easily.
Similarly, the ability to easily plug-in potential new content providers and seamlessly include this in all search and alert results allows knowledge teams to "plug-and-play" new sources and see how executives use these during a trial period.
Evolution for CIOs and content providers
Going into 2015, we expect to see the next BI wave to be large organizations piloting this unification approach as they demand content and data is made more accessible, more relevant and expect a better ROI from their investment in premium sources.
Additionally, we are seeing the major content providers start to explore how they can lead the charge and stay ahead by offering to implement the "hubs" in partnership with software vendors (often white-label) - and maintain the overarching client relationship rather than becoming "just" a great content provider plugging into another solution.
It's not 'Uber-style' disruption just yet. But ...
We're not quite at the point of an 'Uber-style' disruption (as one industry exec put it recently when describing internal content marketplaces) for existing content providers as these types of changes impact a wide range of stakeholders.
However, the business intelligence game will change fast and most enterprises are starting to experiment with this unified approach at divisional levels as well as testing the waters for a more macro shift in the not-too-distant future.
Nick Gregg is CEO of EditorEye, a cloud-based business intelligence platform.
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