Q&A: Timo Elliott, BI evangelist at SAP

We got some one-on-one time with SAP’s leading mind on business intelligence to get to the root of the technology.

The term business intelligence is thrown around at every opportunity nowadays and more and more companies are leaping on the bandwagon to push their products out into the ever-growing market.

One of the longest standing and biggest companies offering such solutions is SAP.

At the firm's annual World Tour conference, IT PRO spoke to one of its leading business intelligence executives to get the lowdown on the technology, what it can do for firms and where it can go from here.

How would you define business intelligence (BI)?

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Using information effectively to run your business.

One of the things I have found in the industry is that information is so universal. It means so many different things to so many different people that nailing it down to one short definition [is difficult].

Everybody has a different opinion and so what we typically recommend is that rather than trying to figure out what BI is, just figure out a business problem and if information can help then [here] is the technology.

Your job title is "BI evangelist." Why are you so passionate about it?

I honestly believe that this is the number one thing that you can do to help improve businesses but also, it sounds corny but, to make the world a better place.

The last 20 or 30 years we have spent a lot of time making everything more efficient, so most companies build things very efficiently, the supply chain needs to be optimised and we have done all the basics.

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We spent a lot of time doing things right but we don't always know if we are doing the right things. So what should you actually be concentrating on? What are your new opportunities?

[For example] we worked with the group that runs the transplant programme, so if you are unfortunately in a car accident but you have agreed to offer your organs then they match up the organs with a patient and they do that using a database in our systems.

So there are just so many areas that technology touches on. It is just ever-evolving so it is a passionate area.

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