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February 2013, Vol. 19

The history of business intelligence and analytics and what comes next

“Business intelligence” and “analytics” are terms as common in our world as peanut butter and jelly. In deference to our global readership, to avoid any possible local or regional bias, we should perhaps additionally consider fish and chips, borscht and potatoes, hummus and falafel, and likely many others, but I don’t want to belabor the point. As best I could determine in my look back at the history of business intelligence, the term was first used by H. P. Luhn in an article entitled “A Business Intelligence System,” published in an IBM research journal in 1958. Luhn defined BI as “the ability to apprehend the interrelationships of presented facts in such a way as to guide action towards a desired goal.” Sounds straightforward. During the next 30 years, we evolved the original concept through various stages of maturity: decision support systems (DSS) and executive information systems (EIS) were quite in vogue during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1989, a major milestone was achieved when Gartner Inc. analyst Howard Dresner described ...

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