GIS & BI: Art & Science in Business Decisions
I read an interesting article from Directions Magazine today about the relative complexity of modeling certain things to make decisions. The article is interesting in that it states pretty clearly what most of us know about computers and models for decision making: they're pretty reliable... until things get complex to the point where there are no clear boundaries or frameworks for decisions to be made "algorithmically".
The article states that to a large extent, business decisions (in this case, about retail store placement and performance) combine aspects of both art and science. The computer does the grunt computation based on the underlying model (science), while the business user takes what the computer provides and makes the final decision, based on experience and knowledge (art).
To a large extent, I believe that's what integrating the visual component of maps into BI data enables. It brings to the business user's fingertips all of the carefully modeled, massaged, and tabulated business data that would take a human ages to synthesize. It shows that data as information within in a known physical context where, correlated with spatial influencers (which again, are not easily synthesized except with a map). This information, combined with experience and sound judgement helps ensure the best decision is made.
There may come a day when Watson's descendants can actually make business decisions (and I have reservations about that, but those belong in another blog). Until then, making information real and easy to consume for those responsible elevates both the art & science of decision making.