MSc dissertation - João Clara Silva

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MSc dissertation on "When Business Intelligence meets Web 2.0"

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MSc dissertation - João Clara Silva

  1. 1. Universidade Católica Portuguesa Faculdade de Ciências Económicas e Empresarias When Business Intelligence meets Web 2.0 Can Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering? Student: João Clara Silva Advisor: Paulo Cardoso do AmaralDissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree ofMasters of Science in Business Administration, at Universidade Católica Portuguesa,May, 2010.
  2. 2. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?Acknowledgements I am grateful to all who accompanied me while I wrote this and particularly to: Professor Paulo Amaral for the effort, commitment and patience dedicated to my investigation and dissertation development. My friends for pushing me forward with this endeavor and also for letting me lay back and relax in the appropriate times, whether they are in Portugal or any other part in the World. My family for pulling my ears and constantly reminding me how important this work is. My colleagues who have taken time to help me and have shown their interest in and concern for my work. Just over night all things have arisen new.
  3. 3. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?Abstract This MSc dissertation proposes a framework model that assesses how Web 2.0principles can improve Business Intelligence gathering as well as contribute to improvingcorporate access to information and develop better Business Intelligence services thatfit employees’ particular needs in aggregating, generating, and facilitating access toinformation. The framework model results from aggregating the knowledge and theoriesobtained by researching existing frameworks and it defines the following Web 2.0principles: contribution to data generation, openness to collective intelligence, ability touse as a platform, technological accessibility, openness to user contribution andexperience, and portability promotion. The answer to the research question isdeveloped through an evaluation of these principles impact in Business Intelligencegathering. Web 2.0 matters for Business Intelligence since it meets the challenges of itscurrent limitations. Web 2.0 provides access to an alternative market of cheaper sourcesto obtain intelligence from online analytical data providers. It brings new tools that canbe easily programmed, saving the time and effort spent on gathering intelligence. Itfacilitates information diffusion to multiple targets with the help of tools such as RSS(Real Simple Syndication). It limits the information output of systems to what is essentialthrough innovative ways of filtering information, such as tagging and folksonomies. Itincorporates tacit knowledge from users and promotes user contributions to andparticipation with intelligence tools, which enhances the overall user experience withBusiness Intelligence software. The dissertations conclusion is that Web 2.0 can improve Business Intelligencegathering and should therefore be considered by companies for investment.
  4. 4. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?Resumo Esta dissertação propõe um modelo que define como os princípios da Web 2.0podem melhorar a recolha de Business Intelligence e, simultaneamente, contribuir parao aperfeiçoamento da informação empresarial e dos serviços que agregam, criam efacilitam o acesso a essa informação aos colaboradores. Este modelo resulta da agregação de conhecimento e teorias obtidas de modelosjá existentes e define os seguintes princípios da Web 2.0: contribuição para a criação dedados, abertura para a collective intelligence, capacidade de uso como plataforma,acessibilidade tecnológica, abertura à contribuição e experimentação do utilizador epromoção da portabilidade. A resposta à pergunta de investigação deriva da avaliaçãodo impacto destes princípios na recolha de Business Intelligence. A Web 2.0 é um tema relevante para a evolução de Business Intelligence uma vezque alcança os desafios das suas limitações. A Web 2.0 gera fontes de informaçãoalternativas baratas através de online analytical data providers. Traz novas ferramentasque podem ser facilmente programadas, poupando o tempo e o esforço investidos narecolha de inteligência. Facilitam a difusão de informação a diversas pessoas com aajuda de ferramentas como o RSS. Limitam a quantidade de informação gerada pelossistemas de BI através de ferramentas inovadoras que filtram informação, como otagging e folksonomies. Incorporam conhecimento tácito dos utilizadores e promovemo envolvimento, contribuição e participação dos utilizadores com as ferramentas deBusiness Intelligence. Como conclusão, esta dissertação indica que a Web 2.0 pode melhorar a recolhade Business Intelligence e, assim sendo, deve ser considerada como uma oportunidadede investimento.
  5. 5. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?List of AbbreviationsAJAX: Asynchronous Javascript and XMLAPI: Application Programming InterfaceBI: Business IntelligenceCI: Competitive IntelligenceDSS: Decision Support SystemsINE: Instituto Nacional de EstatísticaMMORPG: Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing GameMP3: Mpeg - 1/2 Audio Layer 3OLAP: Online Analytical ProcessingP2P: Peer-to-peerREST: Representational State TransferRIA: Rich Internet ApplicationROI: Return on InvestmentRSS: Real Simple SyndicationSaaS: Software as a ServiceSME: Small and Medium sized EnterprisesSOA: Service Oriented ArchitectureSOAP: Simple Object Access ProtocolSS: Social Software - "Any website or application which connects users with similarinterests and ideas together, via the internet, can be described as social software"(Perks, 2003).URL: Uniform Resource LocatorXML: eXtensible Markup Language
  6. 6. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?Table of ContentsI. Introduction ................................................................................................................. 1 1.1. State of the Question ............................................................................................ 1 1.2. Purpose ................................................................................................................. 2 1.3. Methodology ........................................................................................................ 5 1.4. Structure ............................................................................................................... 6II. State-of-the-art ........................................................................................................... 7 2.1. Web 2.0 ................................................................................................................ 7 2.1.1. Concepts and definitions ................................................................................ 7 2.1.1.1. Web 2.0 as the result of Internets evolution ............................................... 8 2.1.1.2. Web 2.0 as a buildup word or momentary hype .......................................... 9 2.1.1.3. Web 2.0 as a new set of tools or services ..................................................... 9 2.1.1.4. Web 2.0 as a philosophy ............................................................................ 10 2.1.2. Tools and applications in the Web 2.0 world ................................................ 11 2.1.2.1. Blogs .......................................................................................................... 12 2.1.2.2. Microblogging ............................................................................................ 14 2.1.2.3. Wikis .......................................................................................................... 14 2.1.2.4. Tags, Folksonomy and Social Bookmarking ................................................ 15 2.1.2.5. RSS (Real Simple Syndication) .................................................................... 17 2.1.2.6. Multimedia sharing .................................................................................... 18 2.1.2.7. Audio blogging and podcasting .................................................................. 19 2.1.2.8. Video blogging ........................................................................................... 19 2.1.2.9. Mash-up .................................................................................................... 20 2.1.2.10. Social networking .................................................................................... 20
  7. 7. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering? 2.1.2.11. MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) ................. 20 2.1.2.12. Newer services and applications .............................................................. 22 2.1.3. Technologies Supporting Web 2.0 ................................................................ 22 2.1.3.1. AJAX .......................................................................................................... 23 2.1.3.2. Rich Internet Applications (RIA) ................................................................. 24 2.1.3.3. Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) .......................................................... 25 2.1.3.4. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) ................................................ 25 2.1.3.5. Microformats ............................................................................................. 26 2.1.3.6. Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) ....................................................... 262.2. Business Intelligence ........................................................................................... 26 2.2.1. Business (Intelligence) .................................................................................. 27 2.2.1.1. Why BI? ..................................................................................................... 27 2.2.1.2. Who uses BI? ............................................................................................. 28 2.2.1.3. How is BI being used? ................................................................................ 29 2.2.2. Concepts and definitions .............................................................................. 30 2.2.2.1. BI as a support for decision-making ........................................................... 31 2.2.2.2. BI as a technology ...................................................................................... 31 2.2.2.3. BI as a systematic approach to information and data finding ..................... 32 2.2.2.4. BI in general terms ..................................................................................... 32 2.2.2.5. Competitive Intelligence (CI) ...................................................................... 33 2.2.3. Purpose of BI ................................................................................................ 33 2.2.4. Advantages of BI ........................................................................................... 35 2.2.5. Potential drawbacks and risks of BI ............................................................... 36 2.2.6. BI tools ......................................................................................................... 38
  8. 8. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?III. Model development ................................................................................................. 40 3.1. Procedure conducted .......................................................................................... 40 3.2. Assessing Business Intelligence as a measurable concept .................................... 41 3.3. Building the new framework for Web 2.0 ............................................................ 43 3.3.1. Contribution to data generation ................................................................... 45 3.3.2. Openness to collective intelligence ............................................................... 46 3.3.3. Ability to use as a platform ........................................................................... 49 3.3.4. Technological accessibility ............................................................................ 50 3.3.5. Openness to user contribution and experience............................................. 51 3.3.6. Portability promotion ................................................................................... 53IV. Discussion ................................................................................................................ 55 4.1. Contribution to data generation .......................................................................... 55 4.2. Openness to collective intelligence ..................................................................... 56 4.3. Ability to use as a platform .................................................................................. 59 4.4. Technological accessibility................................................................................... 60 4.5. Openness to user contribution and experience ................................................... 62 4.6. Portability promotion .......................................................................................... 64V. Conclusion ................................................................................................................. 68 5.1. Concerns for future research............................................................................... 71VI. References ............................................................................................................... 72
  9. 9. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?I. Introduction1.1. State of the Question The Internet has been gaining new applications given that more peoplerecognize the advantages driven by its social networking capabilities (Bernal, 2009;Snee, 2008; Mechant, 2009; Mason, 2008), and the internets role as a new worldwidedatabase for untreated data (OReilly, 2005; Anderson, 2007; Musser, 2007), whosecontributors are Businesses and, more recently, private users (Gillmor, 2004; Downes,2004; Anderson, 2007). The Internet is "formed by the global interconnection of (...) computers,communications entities and information systems through the use of (...) communicationstandards, procedures and formats (...) called protocols. It was not until 1994 that thegeneral public began to be aware of the Internet by way of the World Wide Webapplication. The Internet is the global information system that includes communicationcapabilities and many high level applications. The Web is one such application" (Kahn,1999). The term "Web 2.0" made its first appearance in an article written by DarcyDiNucci in 1999 (Smith, 2009). At this time, while the Internet was in early development,DiNucci foresaw that the capability of displaying texts and graphics could be exported todevices other than desktop computers. (such as TVs and cell phones). Today, we takemost of these technological advancements for granted. While she did not expound theactual definition of Web 2.0, DiNucci did trigger an important fact about it - we nolonger depend only on a computer to access the Internet. Todays Web-ready portabledevices allow steady social connection regardless of time and location. It was only in 2004 that Web 2.0 became a common term throughout the Webcommunity. The reason behind all the excitement was its official presentation by DaleDougherty at a conference between OReilly Media and MediaLive International(OReilly, 2005a). Dougherty noted that "far from having "crashed", the Web still had 1
  10. 10. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?exciting new applications and sites popping up with surprising regularity". From then on,"Web 2.0" has been a term widely used and a concept more fully explored and there isstill no common agreement on what it stands for. Some agree (Madden & Fox, 2006;Mechant, 2009; Snee, 2008; Shawn, 2005) that it is nothing but a meaningless marketingbuzzword, and others accept it as the new conventional wisdom (OReilly, 2005a). From a user perspective, early Web users were treated solely as consumers;recipients of static information, without place for comment. Users were encouraged tolisten, to receive, and become subservient (Mason, 2008). Today, even "the mass mediais being challenged by user-generated content" (Musser, 2007).1.2. Purpose According to the data available at "Internet World Stats" (IWS, 2009), from 2000to 2009, Web usage in Europe grew by 297% and today more than 52% of Europeanssurf the Web. Additionally, in Portugal, the existing penetration rate goes over 41.8%and recorded a growth of 79% since 2000. Even though these results do not refer to theextent nor the ways which people use the Web, its evolution to a commonly accessibleasset is becoming undeniable. As announced by INE (Instituto Nacional de Estatística), in2002 only 15.1% of all Portuguese households had Internet access, but more recent data(INE, 2007) show that "in the first quarter of 2007, 48,3% of Portuguese households hadaccess to a computer at home and 39,6% to the Internet", which means that almost 82%of households with a computer have access to the Internet. Within a World population of almost 7 billion (UN World population prospects,2009), 22.86% are internet users. According to the website Worldometers (WOM,2010), these users generate over 170 billion emails, 710 thousand blog posts and about1 billion Google searches a day. These figures reflect the growth of Internet awareness among users. Thus useracquaintance with the Web becomes imperative for businesses, particularly for those 2
  11. 11. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?who aim for a Web-way of practice and assessing how the Web can benefit businessesbecomes more urgent. Currently researchers foresee two ways for companies to use the Web. Someresearchers focus on the use of its technologies, tools and applications by the companyas a way to improve customer-company relations (OReilly, 2005; Musser, 2007; Hoegget al., 2006; ); while others (Tredinnick, 2006; Hoegg et al., 2006; Bernal, 2009; McGee,2008; Marshall, 2008; Lamb, 2004; McAfee, 2006) share a view on how Web 2.0 cangenerate benefits inside the firewall (i.e. as part of the companys internal activities andprocesses), namely in providing actionable information for decision-making in an effort-less and intuitive way. These two tasks have, so far, been Business Intelligences responsibility. BIsystems have been in existence since 1958, when Hans Peter Luhn first defined BI as"the ability to apprehend the interrelationships of present facts in such a way as to guideactions towards a desired goal" (Luhn, 1958). Today, the purpose of BI is to "improve thetimeliness and quality of the input to the decision process" (Negash et al., 2003) with thehelp of "applications and technologies for gathering, storing, analyzing, reporting onand providing access to data" (Power, 2005). Golfarelli has defined BI as "the process of turning data into information andthen into knowledge" (Golfarelli et al., 2004) thus implying that data collection isperformed by other mechanisms. Furthermore, BI as a term "replaced decision support,executive information systems, and management information systems" (Thomsen, 2003)for the purpose of "facilitating managerial work" (Negash et al., 2003), which meansthat BI mainly functions as an asset for internal decision-making. Hence, its modusoperandi falls under the "inside the firewall" perspective mentioned previously for Web2.0. BI services are "big businesses" (Power, 2001), and are only affordable bypowerful companies. The small and medium enterprises (SME) "face additional hurdles,such as tighter budgets, less sophistication and organizational knowledge, technology 3
  12. 12. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?hurdles and fewer people, meaning less time to spend on planning and analysis" (Canes,2009). Additionally, "many companies that purchase powerful analysis and businessintelligence tools dont use them effectively" (Foody, 2009). In contrast, Web 2.0 toolsconstitute a cheaper (while not free) approach to BI, dependent only on useracquaintance with the Web, to deliver information and knowledge. Furthermore, Web2.0, in contrast with BI, allows the integration of tacit knowledge into its tools(Rodrigues, 2002). Thus, Web 2.0 presents itself as an opportunity for these small and mediumcompanies to improve their current access to information and develop better BI servicesthat fit their particular needs in aggregating, generating and facilitating access toinformation for their employees. For the abovementioned reasons, investigating the current states of Webdevelopment and Businesses Intelligence are primary in answering the researchquestion of this dissertation: Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering? In order to answer this question, the following questions are also addressed inthis work, as they present particular assessments on how Web 2.0 tools can helpimprove BI gathering: Can new Web 2.0 tools help organizations to perform better Business Intelligence? Can these new tools contribute to better decision making? (In other words, do they constitute an update of current decision support systems?) Are Web 2.0 tools only applicable for Web-knowledgeable workers? Accordingly, this MSc dissertation intends to demonstrate the Webs impact ondoing business and more specifically to explore the benefits of using the latest Web 2.0tools to improve and provide BI collection and delivery systems throughoutcorporations. Additionally, this paper also aims to provide the reader with some insighton how to facilitate Web 2.0 implementation in an organization. 4
  13. 13. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?1.3. Methodology Developing an answer to this dissertation’s research question will be achieved intwo steps. The first step is a review of the literature, mostly ranging from 1999 to 2010,which refers to Web 2.0 and BI sources. This review is the result of exploratory researchto identify noteworthy articles through cross-reference analysis. The majority of thereferences found are academic, while others are based on professional reports andexperiences written by qualified personnel in the fields of Web 2.0 and BI. The second step is the development of a new framework model for understandingWeb 2.0’s importance for BI. The new framework model will be developed according tothe following structure:1. Developing a list of the most common Web 2.0 tools;2. Constructing a new framework of features that categorize Web 2.0 that is based on definitions and characteristics offered by researched articles;3. Applying those features so as to understand their impact on Business Intelligence and then identifying the Web 2.0 tools that would be of a more appropriate use to improve BI. While the dissertation’s new framework model for understanding Web 2.0 andits implications for BI is developed by extensive research, the framework model is notcomplete and thus has the capacity for future development through even moreextensive research of the current literature. Nevertheless, more than enough evidencehas been gathered into the new framework model to provide a positive answer to thedissertations research question. 5
  14. 14. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?1.4. Structure This dissertation will now be developed in five sections. The first of these will bea presentation of the main concepts, definitions and ideas behind Web 2.0 and BusinessIntelligence. These are treated separately in order to build a sound state-of-the-art oftheir limitations, applicability and evolution. The next session creates a new frameworkmodel to explain the main Web 2.0 principles followed by a discussion which evaluatesthe extent to which Web 2.0 can contribute to the task of Business Intelligence. Finally,a conclusion is made followed by a presentation of suggestions on what futuredevelopments might need to be further scrutinized. 6
  15. 15. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?II. State-of-the-art This chapter scrutinizes Web 2.0 regarding its concepts and definitions and seeksto explore in further detail the current tools and applications existent and theirassociated technologies. The background research accomplished on BusinessIntelligence will also be addressed as an attempt to review the current concepts anddefinitions, tools and applications to businesses, as well as current advantages andpotential drawbacks.2.1. Web 2.02.1.1. Concepts and definitions Although the internet has existed for many decades, the platform for exchangingdocuments, also known as “Web”, was not conceived until 1989. The Web is aconceptual framework of information exchange utilizing globally interconnectednetworks (internet). Over time it underwent several mutations, firstly being dominatedby large multinational corporations to target new and existing markets, but in mid-2004it assumed a new position as a new age of Web users and developers began to emerge(Mason, 2008). In "What is Web 2.0 - Design Patterns and Business Models for the NextGeneration of Software" Tim OReilly (OReilly, 2005a) mentions that the concept of theWeb 2.0 began with a conference brainstorming session between OReilly and MedialiveInternational, when Dale Dougherty 1 noted that new applications and sites werepopping up with surprising regularity, revealing what appeared to be a new turningpoint for the Web. Nevertheless, no commonly agreed definition of Web 2.0 yet existsamong Web 2.0 instigators, since some still think of it as a "meaningless marketingbuzzword" while others accept it as "the new conventional wisdom" (OReilly, 2005).1 General manager of Maker Media division at OReilly Media, an American media company that publishes books and Web sites andproduces conferences on computer technology topics. 7
  16. 16. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering? In fact, regardless of OReillys effort to elucidate on its definition, "Web 2.0remains a problematic concept" (Mechant, 2008) as some authors argue that "it was, atthat time, too early to rely on them exclusively" (Depauw, 2008) and that OReillys"delineation of Web 2.0 is in many ways quite nebulous, outlining the characteristicsthemes of Web 2.0 approaches to information services, rather than specific technologies(...) creating a picture that is frustratingly short on detail" (Tredinnick, 2006). Otherauthors believe that "Web 2.0" is a mere buzz term created to market social Web-applications, which "resulted in many considering it a commodity interest" (Mason,2008). In his book "The Cult of the Amateur" Andrew Keen (Keen, 2007) suggests thatwhat "the Web 2.0 revolution is really delivering is superficial observations of the worldaround us rather than deep analysis". Keens vision of the Web emphasizes the poorquality of content delivered to the user "when ignorance meets egoism meets bad tastemeets mob rule". Summarizing the literature examined, it is possible to identify at least five waysto view Web 2.0. Some relate it to the natural evolution of the Internet, othersunderstand it as a recent hype or marketing buzzword, a third group associates Web 2.0to a new set of internet tools and services, a minority consider it to be a newphilosophy, and lastly, some share a more skeptical view about its real utility. Theseviews are briefly sketched below.2.1.1.1. Web 2.0 as the result of Internets evolution Identifying Web 2.0 as the result of internets evolution is John Musser (Musser,2007) in "Web 2.0 - Principles and Best Practices". He defined it as "a set of economic,social, and technology trends that collectively form the basis for the next generation ofthe internet - a more mature, distinctive medium characterized by user participation,openness, and network effects". Later on, his colleague Tim OReilly (OReilly, 2006)suggested in "Web 2.0 Compact Definition: Trying Again" that "Web 2.0 is the businessrevolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform".Indeed, much of the Web 2.0 research is associated with this new platform that allows 8
  17. 17. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?"a paradigm shift (from delivering products) to delivering services that can be used andcombined with other services in new ways and harnessing growth of interactivity withend users in new ways" (Bernal, 2009). In the same line of reasoning, "Web 2.0 hastherefore been used largely metaphorically to suggest a major software upgrade to theworld wide Web" (Tredinnick, 2006) and "although it sounds like a new generation oftechnical development, it is in fact a phenomenal change of the Web" (Chan et al.,2007).2.1.1.2. Web 2.0 as a buildup word or momentary hype Describing Web 2.0 as a buildup word or momentary hype is to accept the termas a "conceptual umbrella under which analysts, marketers and other stakeholders in thetech field could huddle the new generation of internet applications and businesses thatwere emerging to form the "participatory Web" as we know it today" (Madden & Fox,2006). It has been more recently asserted that the term "Web 2.0" has became toopopular to be useful as a research concept, and some authors, like Peter Mechant(2009), author of "A Patchwork of Online Community-based Systems", prefer toconsider the concept of "social software" to be a more appropriate term when referringto the discourse of innovators and researchers. Helene Snee (Snee, 2008), in "Web 2.0as a Social Science Research Tool", also agrees with Mechants perspective and evenstates that "Web 2.0 is a social medium which creates and facilitates interactionsbetween people, in a way that the Web was supposed to be in the early days". RussellShawn (Shawn, 2005) writes in “Web 2.0 Does Not Exist” that "Web 2.0 is a marketingslogan" since the changes occurring to the Web are incremental and therefore cannotbe classified as a pre-defined package that was meant to improve the existing Web.2.1.1.3. Web 2.0 as a new set of tools or services Viewing Web 2.0 as a new set of tools or services, Macaskill and Owen(Macaskill and Owen, 2006) in "Web 2.0 To Go" state that Web 2.0 "describes a range ofincreasingly popular Web services that offer users dynamic interactive models of 9
  18. 18. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?communication combined with the ability to create and share content". "The Web ofdocuments has morphed into a Web of data. Now were looking to a new set of tools toaggregate and remix microcontent in new and useful ways" (Macmanus and Porter,2005). James McGee (McGee, 2008) supports the same view. In “Email is for OldPeople” he asserts that Web 2.0 "describes a collection of Web-based technologieswhich share a user-focused approach to design and functionality, where usersparticipate in content creation and editing through open collaboration betweenmembers of communities of practice". User control is one of the foundations of Web 2.0,which then enables "users to extract information and data and reuse that informationand data in a flexible way, and enabling them in the process perhaps even to change thestructure of the information system itself" (Tredinnick, 2006). Associated with usercontrol is users collaboration since "Web 2.0 represents an environment wherecommunities of participants with common interests contribute to a collective intelligence(...) where dynamic, hardware-independent applications can be developed with the helpof customers" (Connolly, 2007). Therefore it is common to think that collaboration in thedevelopment of interfaces with the help of customers allows "end users to view dataquicker" (Bernal, 2009). "Web 2.0 can be seen as triggering a set of recursive social andtechnical advances (...) fuelled by a desire for increased openness in the informationeconomy" (Mason, 2008).2.1.1.4. Web 2.0 as a philosophy Web 2.0 as a philosophy is closely related to the view presented above, being"defined as the philosophy of mutually maximizing collective intelligence and addedvalue for each participant by formalized and dynamic information sharing and creation"(Hoegg et al., 2006). This dissertation does not develop the concept of Web 2.0 as aphilosophy but more as a new set of tools and services since this provides the bestmeasurable way of analysis and is closely related to the outcome of the Web as anevolution of the Internet. Moreover, this new set of tools can be examined andevaluated according to their appropriateness for Business Intelligence. 10
  19. 19. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?2.1.2. Tools and applications in the Web 2.0 world The first step towards defining Web 2.0 as a source for new tools andapplications came from Tim OReillys (OReilly, 2005b) allusion to the concept of Web2.0 as a platform. In his blog post "Web 2.0: Compact Definition", OReilly states that"Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform:delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more peopleuse it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users,while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others,creating network effects through an "architecture of participation", and going beyondthe page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences". In a later post, he addedthe following statement to his vision: "Web 2.0 is (...) an attempt to understand the rulesfor success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications thatharness network effects to get better the more people use them - harnessing collectiveintelligence." (OReilly, 2006). Some authors, such as Wendy Macaskill and Dylan Owen (Macaskill and Owen,2006), even believe that the Web may become the (free) operating platform of choice inthe future over paid platforms, such as Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X. Bearing thisidea in mind, there is an obvious interest for businesses to exploit the cost andoperational advantages of such a platform. In his paper "Enterprise 2.0", Andrew McAfee (McAfee, 2006) calls Web 2.0technologies the "new digital platforms for generating, sharing and refining information(...) popular on the internet". However, he prefers the label "enterprise 2.0" in order "tofocus only on those platforms that companies can buy or build in order to make visiblethe practices and outputs of their knowledge workers". In a similar manner, the conceptof "intranet 2.0" is born, defined as "a paradigm shift thats been building in recent yearswhere collaboration and free speech reign and users are encouraged to network andform the content of the intranet site" (Scarf, 2006). 11
  20. 20. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering? Conversely, in "What is Web 2.0?" Paul Anderson (Anderson, 2007) states thatnew Web 2.0 tools and applications "are not really technologies as such, but services (oruser processes) built using the building blocks of the technologies and open standardsthat underpin the internet and the Web. He calls them concatenations, which meansthey make use of existing services. Despite the variety of interpretations, these new tools have their origins in theInternet. The Internet has evolved in such a way that new "Web 2.0 services allow usersto increasingly treat the Web, not their pc, as their preferred platform of use" and this ispossible because "Web 2.0 sites and services now provide a range of increasinglysophisticated and often (free applications) that are beginning to resemble (andchallenge) desktop programs in terms of functionality" (Macaskill and Owen, 2006). The most relevant of the new Web 2.0 tools and applications presented andanalyzed below:2.1.2.1. Blogs Blogs first appeared in the mid-1990s as a simplified way of publishing to theWeb and they represent "an individuals serial journal-like informal postings, typically,but not necessarily, written by a relative expert and solicits comments from readers"(McGee, 2008). Blogs can be characterized by their "greater ease of Web publishing (...) allowingalmost everyone with only a little technological savvy to participate in the discursivespace of the internet" and are viewed as a "cheap way of publishing and became a wayof aggregating Web content for particular ends" (Tredinnick, 2006). Blogs are also used"as a way for experts to quickly publish their opinions on a plethora of topics for readersto read and respond to. The collaborative power of blogs usually comes in the form ofreader comments that most blogging technology allows for" (Marshall, 2008). Thecollaboration element of blogs, also highlighted in several other Web 2.0 tools, gave 12
  21. 21. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?birth to the blogosphere, i.e. "a "world" of bloggers operating in their own environment"(Anderson, 2007). Blogs are commonly recognized for being "personal, opinionated, unfiltered andoften abandoned after six months", although "subject specialists blogs offer a rich mineof information for those wanting current updates in their area of interest or expertise. Ablog though, is also an interactive tool. It allows and invites feedback and commentaryon what is posted as well as providing extensive linking to content from other blogs andsites" (Macaskill and Owen, 2006). Moreover, "bloggers have begun to incorporatemultimedia into their blogs" (Anderson, 2007), such as music, photos, videos (videoblogs, or vlogs) and, "increasingly, bloggers can upload material directly from theirmobile phones (mob-blogging)" (Anderson, 2007). Although Blogging has existed for over 20 years, it is taking its first steps in abusiness environment. Their business application is important since, for instance, "theymay be written by one or two knowledge-area specialists or can be used to generateinput from everyone (...) often used within the corporate website or an extranetenvironment to demonstrate expertise to prospective clients, create an environment ofinclusiveness and even to support a work-life balance" (Scarff, 2006). Information in a blog is mainly structured with the help of links, i.e. "hyperlink, areference to a document that the reader can directly follow, or that is followedautomatically" (Wikipedia, 2010). Paul Anderson (Anderson, 2007) aggregated someexamples of linking used within a blog: Permalink: permanent URL which is generated by the blogging system and is applied to a particular post. If the item is moved within the database, the permalink stays the same; Trackback (or pingback): allows a blogger (A) to notify another blogger (B) that they have referenced or commented on one of blogger Bs posts; Blogroll: list of links to other blogs that a particular blogger likes or finds useful. 13
  22. 22. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?2.1.2.2. Microblogging “Microblogging is a new form of communications in which users can describetheir current status in short posts distributed by instant messages, mobile phones, emailor the Web” (Java et al., 2007). Microblogging is provided by several services includingTwitter, Jaiku and more recently Pownce, which provide a light-weight and easy form ofcommunication that enables users to broadcast and share information about theiractivities, opinions and status, either to the general public or within a social network(Java et al., 2007). Twitter, for example, allows a user to provide “followers” withregular updates within 140 characters at time, bringing the concept of quick and cheappublishing to the internet (Bushey, 2010). Companies of all shapes and sizes are seizing the opportunities of this digitalword-of-mouth. For big companies, Twitter represents a way to offer special discountsand opportunities, and for small businesses it presents a free and efficient alternative topromote goods and services directly to customers. Hence, Twitter has become a newway to deal with customer relationship management (Ankeny, 2009). Most importantly,it has become a quick and free way for information to be distributed throughoutcompanies, regardless of employee location, as long as an internet access is provided.Businesses that rely on contact lists or are event-driven are positioned to maximize thissocial media opportunity (Ankeny, 2009).2.1.2.3. Wikis Wikis are a "means of publishing to the Web. Wiki supports the creation of full-scale websites with its combination of templates, authoring tools and audit trails"(Tredinnick, 2006). One of the best known examples is Wikipedia, an onlineencyclopedia accessible and edited online by anyone. "The wiki is a tool to enablecollaborative authoring" and "the power to edit and update information goes to theusers" (Tredinnick, 2006). This power is also its major drawback since wikis canmisinform or even disseminate false material in the fact that "most reference materials 14
  23. 23. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?are developed by a small minority of a community, organization, or society" and "theamount of content included in a wiki will often greatly overshadow most officialreference documents" (Marshall, 2008). Therefore, only so much can be said about thequality and reliability of its content, or about its community of contributors since "theexperiment of Wikipedia may be a revolutionary experiment in trust, but the number ofusers simply perusing Web content far outweighs those that edit it" (Mason, 2008). As amatter of fact, only 1.37% of Wikipedias registered users are active contributors to itscontent (Wikipedia, 2010). And this raises the question of whether this collaborationtool really works for environments with less than a couple of hundred users, like smallto medium sized businesses. Undoubtedly, a wiki "allows multiple authors and editors to contributesimultaneously and on an ongoing basis to a document" (McGee, 2008) and this is themain reason why wikis constitute a revolutionary Web 2.0 tool. Paul Anderson (2007)calls it a "collaborative tool that facilitates the production of a group work" that "unlikeblogs (...) allows previous versions to be examined, and a rollback function, whichrestores previous versions". Its major advantage is that they are "free, simple to use andset up", which makes them "ideal for specific projects and collaborative knowledgesharing, especially if your group members are in more than one location. For some wikis,"levels of access and content security can be set" (Macaskill and Owen, 2006). Inbusinesses wikis "can be used to create a knowledge base or reference for staff,researchers, sales teams or customer service representatives" (Scarff, 2006).2.1.2.4. Tags, Folksonomy and Social Bookmarking The desire to find and share information among small groups, teams andcommunities of practice has, not surprisingly, led to the development of a number ofshared bookmarking systems (Millen et al., 2005). "One of the first large-scale applications of tagging was seen with theintroduction of Joshua Schacters del.icio.us website, which launched the "social 15
  24. 24. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?bookmarking" phenomenon" (Anderson, 2007). "This bookmarking service allows usersto store their bookmarks online" and to have them "described, tagged, collaborativelyshared, and searched for by others" (Macaskill and Owen, 2006). The free tagging of information and objects (anything with a URL) led to theappearance of the term "folksonomy", officially coined by Thomas Vander Wal (Wal,2005). Folksonomy is usually characterized by "end users of a website tagging or addingkeywords to content. Some of the first applications of folksonomy were photos andinternet bookmarks" (Marshall, 2008). "Folksonomy describes the emergent classification structures that arise as users"tag" information for their own ends (...) to aid in the classification of information andknowledge (Tredinnick, 2006). "A folksonomy (a categorization system developed overtime by folks) is in some ways the opposite of a taxonomy, which is an up-frontcategorization scheme developed by an expert" (McAfee, 2006). Hence, "folksonomiesrely on the similarities between the ways in which people describe disparate pieces ofinformation" (Tredinnick, 2006). "Web 2.0 is the interactive Web, where end users canhelp define how they might categorize the data. This helped facilitate a change from thetraditional "taxonomy" to the more interactive "folksonomy", where common folkshelped drive the categorization of information in a more meaningful manner" (Bernal,2009). Academics, such as Paul Anderson (Anderson, 2007) used a similar tool in theresearch of his report, CiteULike, a website that allows its users to add papers to theirpersonal library and automatically extracts the citation details. It recommends otherarticles based on each users library and fosters information sharing between users. Particularly, a tag is a keyword that is added to a digital object (e.g. a website,picture or video clip) to describe it, but not as part of a normal classification system"(Anderson, 2007). 16
  25. 25. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering? Eventually a new monitoring andindexing tool for tags was born, the tagclouds. Tag clouds "are groups of tags from anumber of different users of a taggingservice, which collates information about thefrequency with which particular tags areused. This frequency information is oftendisplayed graphically as a "cloud" in which From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_cloudtags with higher frequency of use aredisplayed in larger text" (Anderson, 2007). Tagging is also associated to picture sharing websites, such as Flickr orPhotobucket, where users usually “tag” someone else’s picture to identify a person. Byusing multiple tags on a picture, it is possible to see photos, not only chronologically butsorted by the people who are in them, who posted them, their locations, the eventsthey record, etc. (Weinberger, 2005). Recent developments in tagging are related totagging video content, by embedding time stamps in a video and referring each mark tohowever the author wants to describe that particular timing. An example of this is"http://redlasso.com/".2.1.2.5. RSS (Real Simple Syndication) RSS (or Real Simple Syndication) is a "way of syndicating Web content throughthe use of content feeds, that usually combine either a lead paragraph, or a summary ofan article published on the Web or on a blog, and have a hyperlink back to its source"(Tredinnick, 2006). "Bloggers use RSS to generate a short notice (i.e. headline) each time they addnew content. (...) That is also a link back to the full content. With RSS, users (...) simplyconsult their aggregators, click on headlines of interest and are taken to the newcontent" (McAfee, 2006) of "RSS-enabled websites, blogs or podcasts without actually 17
  26. 26. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?having to go and visit the site. Instead, information from the website is collected within afeed and "piped" to the user in a process known as syndication" (Anderson, 2007). "Tosubscribe to these information feeds (...) you need to download a content aggregator.You can also customize your RSS to locate content thats appropriate to your needs"(Macaskill and Owen, 2006) or, alternatively, subscribe to a website, such as Netvibes,which "provides an interface to aggregated RSS content" (Mason, 2008). According to Craig Mason (Mason, 2008) RSS "provides a structured and logicalprocess for distributing content without requiring users to literally engage with atraditional centralized interface". An example of this would be to use RSS along withtags, by requesting headlines that contain a collection of keywords, and return thisinformation as an RSS feed. Another relevant aspect of RSS is that it "allows websites to constantly displaynew updated content as it flows in from different sources across the Web automatically"(Marshall, 2008), or by "aggregating from many different websites into a single user-space" (Tredinnick, 2006). For companies worried about opening up their systems to the internet under theexcuse that they would rather not waste work-time with site exploration, this tool isparticularly useful, since it "allows people and organizations to subscribe to externalcontent in XML format" (Scarff, 2006), and receive updated relevant informationthrough their browser or by e-mail.2.1.2.6. Multimedia sharing "Popular services take the idea of the "writeable" Web (where users are not justconsumers but contribute actively to the production of Web content) and enable it on amassive scale (Youtube, Flickr and Odeo)" (Aderson, 2007). Additionally, "BitTorrent, like other pioneers in the P2P (peer-to-peer) movement,takes a radical approach to internet decentralization. Every client is also a server; files 18
  27. 27. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?are broken up into fragments that can be served from multiple locations, transparentlyharnessing the network of downloaders to provide both bandwidth and data to otherusers" (OReilly, 2005). For businesses, this means having a file sharing system relying on theiremployees to act as a fragmented data base; the more users exist, the faster the filesare shared among them. This also facilitates the geographical location of each personwithin the same company.2.1.2.7. Audio blogging and podcasting "Podcast is simply making audio files available online so that users can thendownload them to their desktop" (Macaskill and Owen, 2006). "Interviews and lectures(...) can be played either on a desktop computer or on a handheld MP3 device. (...)Podcast listeners subscribe to RSS feeds and receive information about new podcasts asthey become available" (Anderson, 2007). More recently, video files can also reside "ona website and can be easily downloaded to a handheld device or personal computer"(McGee, 2008). This technology is not new and its application to a business environment ismostly related to e-learning systems, where the users exploit a pre-bought applicationor access a website and listen (and/or watch) the education material selected by theirmanagement.2.1.2.8. Video blogging As bandwidth capacity increases and server space becomes available, usersbecame capable of uploading their own content to the Web. A clear success is the caseof You Tube. This website lets users upload, tag, watch, rate, review, and blog videofootage, and even creates playlists. You Tube is one of the fastest growing websitestoday. One of its enhancements is letting content creators create and customize theirown broadcast channel (Macaskill and Owen, 2006). Similar to You Tube, users can 19
  28. 28. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?access Vimeo (http://vimeo.com/) an online community for video content creators toshare their videos among themselves and other users.2.1.2.9. Mash-up A mash-up is defined as "Web pages or applications that take data from morethan one (often unrelated) online source and combine it to create new hybrid servicesunintended by the original content owners" (Macaskill and Owen, 2006), "to create aunique view of interpretation" (McGee, 2008). A common example of a mash-up is theuse of Google maps to show business locations within a certain region. An example is"The rentables" (http://www.therentables.com/), a website to locate houses for rent; itworks its platform under Google maps to show its users where the houses are located.2.1.2.10. Social networking Websites such as Facebook or MySpace allow users to set up interactive andpersonalized Web profiles detailing personal information such as: education, age,interests, and hobbies. Users are able to edit and customize their profile page, to displayfriends, upload photographs, videos, music, create a blog, post comments on other userprofile pages, and send messages to other users (Macaskill and Owen, 2006).Furthermore, websites like Linkedin take this personalization to the professional level,where users can create their professional profiles that include their academicbackground and corporate experience and where links are made available to past andcurrent co-workers and colleagues.2.1.2.11. MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) Virtual worlds are understood as immersive, three-dimensional, multi-media,multi-person simulation environments, where each participant adopts an alter ego andinteracts with other participants in real time (Wagner, 2008). There are well over ahundred widely used virtual world applications available today, operating on severaldifferent platforms (Wagner, 2008). Christian Wagner differentiates them in two groups: 20
  29. 29. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?purposeful and general purpose virtual worlds. Purposeful worlds are represented bygames such as “World of Warcraft” (or more recently, “Aion”), that require a user tofulfill a set of quests (i.e. objectives) usually rising in difficulty and complexity. Most ofthese objectives are meant to be played online in collaboration with several other users(hence the acronym MMO). Although these objectives are apart from reality, the authorsuggests that the learning experience can be very practical, “such as the impact onaltruistic behavior or the benefits of separation of duties and team work”. On the other hand, through the use of general purpose virtual worlds, someauthors have suggested that the concept of virtual worlds could be applied to education(Wagner, 2008; J. King, 2008). Brian King (J. King, 2008) suggests the creation of aMMORPG dedicated to foster students learning about business in an engaging andeducational simulation game. His point is that current educational strategies do notprepare graduates for the modern business world and they do not motivate students tolearn. Another example being used in education (Wagner, 2008) is a virtual worldclosely related to the concept of social networking sites called Second Life, “asubscription based virtual world where registered users interact by building, playing,working, and flying along side other virtual characters” (Mascaskill and Owen, 2006).Here, people assume their own life in a game, or prefer to act as someone else in theirinteractivity with others. Second Life currently has over 11.2 million registered avatarsand monthly growth rates are in excess of 20%. From a business resources perspective,virtual worlds such as Second Life provide environments and tools that facilitatecreating online laboratories that can automatically recruit potentially thousands ofresearch subjects at a low cost (Chesney et al., 2007). Moreover, managers are startingto realize that a great part of their young workforce are accustomed to playing onlinegames, and thus are more comfortable with new technological advancements (King,2008). 21
  30. 30. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?2.1.2.12. Newer services and applications "There is such a deluge of new services that it is often difficult to keep track ofwhats "out there" or to make sense of what each provides" (Anderson, 2007). Andersonsuggests a way to categorize new services based on what they attempt to do. Heidentified seven ways to categorize new services: Social networking: professional and social networking sites that facilitate meeting people, finding like minds, sharing content; Aggregation services: information gathering from diverse sources across the Web and publish in one place. Includes news and RSS feed aggregators and tools that create a single webpage with all your feeds and email in one place. Collect and aggregate user data, user "attention" and intentions; Data "mash-ups": Web services that pull together data from different sources to create a new service (i.e. aggregation and recombination); Tracking and filtering content: services that keep track of, filter, analyze and allow search of the growing amounts of Web 2.0 content from blogs, multimedia sharing services, etc; Collaborating: collaborative reference works (like Wikipedia) that are built using wiki-like software tools. Collaborative, Web-based project and work group productivity tools; Replicate office-style software in the browser: Web-based desktop application/document tools; Source ideas or work from the crowd: seek ideas, solutions to problems or get tasks completed by outsourcing to users of the Web. Uses the idea of power of the crowd.2.1.3. Technologies Supporting Web 2.0 Several new technologies and concepts supporting the Web 2.0 environmenthave become widely noticed. The research conducted for this study revealed some ofthe most important ones, namely: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Simple Object Access 22
  31. 31. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?Protocol (SOAP), Microformats, Social software, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA),Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) and AJAX. "Web 2.0 is about improving the user interface and enabling end users to viewdata quicker" by taking "advantage of the browser as the universal client and provide aricher interactive experience" (Bernal, 2009). The browser thus becomes the mainplatform of use for these new technologies. This is made possible with the use of "keyopen standards, flexible, and ever changing technologies" (Marshall, 2008) such as AJAX,PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor), SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and APIs(Application Programming Interfaces). These tools "significantly improved one elementof the Web that before was not as powerful: two-way communication and socialnetworking" (Marshall, 2008), empowering users to be active agents in creating, editingand managing their own and others content. Furthermore "there is less emphasis on thesoftware (as a package: licensed and distributed) and far more on an applicationproviding a service" (Anderson, 2007), hence the concept of Software as a Service(SaaS). Most of the world of software is moving to the browser and SaaS – and thereforeto the Web and your local internet (Hinchcliffe (b), 2006).2.1.3.1. AJAX "Early Web browsing followed a very structured 3-stage pattern; click, load andwait" (Mason, 2008). AJAX is a term first coined by Jesse James Garret (Garret, 2005)and is used to describe a "set of technologies that allow browsers to provide users with amore natural browsing experience" (Teare, 2005) "with the kind of responsive interfacesthat are commonly found in desktop applications" (Anderson, 2007). "The key in AJAX is the term asynchronous, (...) a new paradigm for interactingwith the browser, with no need for full-page refreshes" (Bernal, 2009). Informationkeeps being updated behind the scenes while the user can focus on something else onthe page. This "improves the dynamism of Web pages through individual techniquessuch as Javascript, etc." (Anderson, 2007) and allows "(near) real-time updates of 23
  32. 32. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?individual elements on-screen" which "brings the user closer to the content provider orreceiver" (Mason, 2008). Some authors find problems with the safety measurements around the use ofAJAX. Jordan Wiens (Wiens, 2007) states that AJAX "leaves users vulnerable to cross-siterequest forgery attacks". As a result, without an update on an AJAX application, it ispossible that someone or something else can act on its own, pretending to be the user.2.1.3.2. Rich Internet Applications (RIA) "Browser technology has moved on to a new stage in its development with theintroduction of what are known as RIAs" (Anderson, 2007). A RIA "is a type of Webapplication that can run independently of browsers, can run on any operating systemand, in many ways, works like a traditional desktop application" (Rapoza, 2008). Themost common RIA platform is the Flash plug-in, found in 99% of all computers in theworld" (Hinchcliffe, 2005). The appearance of RIA is not without some controversy. According to DionHinchcliffe (2005), "while the technique getting the most press by far these days is stillAJAX, there are a number of new approaches that are intent on dislocating this (...)browser software model. The new upcoming RIAs are not only easy, but far more cost-effective and with features that AJAX might never be able to match (Hinchcliffe, 2005).However, Hinchcliffe (2005) agrees that many of these new application models arebreaking the model of the Web that requires the use of add-ons to the browser, andthus these new applications have, according to him "considerably less ability to triggernetwork effects". For this researcher "the right combination of features is still beingsought" for the perfect RIA. 24
  33. 33. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?2.1.3.3. Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) According to Arnon Rotem-Gal-Oz (Rotem-Gal-Oz, 2007), looking beyond thehype and misconceptions related to SOA, this technology can be examined from twomain points of view, from a business perspective and a technical one. From a business point of view, SOA analyzes a business to indentify its discreteareas of interest and its business processes in order to suggest services for these areasthrough message interfaces. The services can be choreographed or orchestrated torealize the business processes. The goal of SOA is to increase the alignment betweenbusiness and IT and achieve business agility – the ability to respond to changes quicklyand efficiently (Rotem-Gal-Oz, 2007). From a technical perspective, SOA is commonly thought of as architecture or anarchitectural style that builds on loosely coupled, interoperable and compositionalcomponents of software agents called services. Services have well-defined interfacesbased on standard protocols as well as policies that govern how these interfaces can beused by service customers (Rotem-Gal-Oz, 2007; Anderson, 2007). Web services for simple functions and tasks are being developed and integratedtogether in the form of SOAs to provide advanced functions to the users. The increasinguse of SOA, interoperable Web services, and public APIs has helped the communicationbetween applications to applications, in a loosely coupled way (Chan et al., 2007).2.1.3.4. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) At the foundation of Web 2.0 technologies are APIs. An API is "a system wherebythird party applications can query, display and even update content of other websitesautonomously" (Mason, 2008). In the Web 2.0 context, "an open API doesnt require theprogrammer to license or pay royalties. Such "open" APIs have helped Web 2.0 servicesdevelop rapidly and have facilitated the creation of mash-ups of data from varioussources" (Anderson, 2007). Nevertheless, although APIs and other similar tools "are 25
  34. 34. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?appearing fairly steadily (...) capable tools for creating new mashups still seem lacking.(...)The advantage of in-browser mashups is the complete portability and mobility theyoffer (Hinchcliffe, 2006).2.1.3.5. Microformats Microformats are widely used by Web developers to embed semi-structuredsemantic information (i.e. some level of “meaning”) with an XHTML webpage (Khare etal., 2006). Microformats allow bloggers or website owners to embed information thatservices and applications can make use of without the need to visit the application’swebsite and add the data (Anderson, 2007).2.1.3.6. Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) is an XML-based protocol that defines aframework for passing messages between systems over the internet (Loshin, 2000). Inother words, SOAP is a protocol (hence, containing several instructions) to facilitatecommunication between programs over http – another protocol that is supported by allinternet browsers and servers and is thus readable in any computer. Therefore, SOAPmakes use of current widely available standards (for internet browsers) to facilitatecommunication between programs. Similar to SOAP, Representational State Transfer (REST) is an architectural ideaand set of principles that uses the Web and which provides a simple communicationsinterface using XML and http. According to Anderson the difference between them isthat the use of SOAP is heavyweight and REST is lightweight (Anderson, 2007).2.2. Business Intelligence In 1958, Hans Peter Luhn gave birth to the term Business Intelligence (BI) in hisarticle "A Business Intelligence System". For him, intelligence represents "the ability toapprehend the interrelationships of presented facts in such a way as to guide actiontowards a desired goal" and in order to make that happen, he suggests that "an 26
  35. 35. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?automatic system is needed which can accept information in its original form,disseminate the data promptly to the proper places and furnish information ondemand". In this sense, he fashioned the Business Intelligence System, which can berepresented by "data processing machines" that working "together with propercommunication facilities and input-output equipment" allow the accommodation of "allinformation problems of an organization" (Luhn, 1958). Later on, BI became a popularized umbrella term coined and promoted byHoward Dresner of the Gartner Group in 1989 (Power, 2007). At the time, Dresner "wasseeking a term that would elevate the debate and better define the analysis ofquantitative information by a wide variety of users (Martens, 2006). In a more recentinterview for Computer World, Dresner states that despite the fact that BI might haveevolved differently from what he expected "its all about ways to deliver information toend users without needing them to be experts in operational research" (Martens, 2006). Indeed, today "the integration of (...) information systems architecture, humanresources, and selection and use of information is still not enough". BI is about "puttingtogether human resources that collaborate and share knowledge with a goodinformation technology system that distributes useful information, enabling thegeneration of individual and group capacities" (Rodrigues, 2002).2.2.1. Business (Intelligence) The evaluation of the applicability of business intelligence in a business contextcan be addressed by answering three questions: Why is it important? To whom is itbeing targeted? How is it being used?2.2.1.1. Why BI? "With the help of BI, companies learn to anticipate the actions of their customersand competitors as well as different phenomena and trends of their market areas andfields of activity. Companies then use the information and knowledge generated tosupport their operative and strategic decision-making" (Hannula, 2003). Additionally, 27
  36. 36. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?"When effectively integrated into processes, BI can help an organization meet manymission-critical goals" (Felix, 2009). These decisions may eventually lead to compulsoryadjustments within the company. According to Richard Hackathorn, "information canonly benefit the business when some action changes the course of some businessprocess" and to have value, it "must improve your products, enhance interactions withcustomers or have similar impacts" (Hackathorn, 2001). Alternatively, BI deployment may be triggered because management requiresthe translation of the companys strategy into a "detailed set of indicators that are closerto the operational tasks" that allow employees to better understand a companys needs(Golfarelli, 2004). The need to accommodate data into simpler indicators can beexplained by the rise of available data. In effect, "according to Gartner Group, by 2012,global companies will have to handle 30 times more data than they do in 2004" and forthis reason, control over key data is becoming a key success factor for businesses(OConnell, 2004). Lastly, "High on the list of factors feeding the burgeoning growth rate of BI is anincreasingly regulatory environment for businesses. Government regulations, primarily inthe form of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the US and the Combined Code on CorporateGovernance in the UK, are fueling the drive to make companies more honest and openwith their corporate information and in their external reporting" (OConnell, 2004). In a nutshell, individuals and businesses invest in BI systems because they wantto achieve corporate goals, they need a better grasp on the universe of data available inthe market, or because they feel the necessity of adapting to marketplace changes.2.2.1.2. Who uses BI? Several authors state that the key to improving the quality and timeliness ofinformation is to implement a holistic, user-centered analytical framework that isdesigned to enhance decision-making across the entire value chain and at all levels ofthe organization - staff-level workers and executive decision-makers (OConnell, 2004; 28
  37. 37. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?Foody, 2009). "At senior managerial levels, it is the input to strategic and tacticaldecisions. At lower managerial levels, it helps individuals to do their day-to-day job"(Negash et al., 2003). In fact, research estimates that "an increasing number of firms will target moreof their budgets toward technology initiatives that deliver information to line- and staff-level workers and less for strategic decision making" (OConnell, 2004). Patrick Foody makes an important point when he states that "analysts needapplications that are user-driven, not application-driven" (Foody, 2009). The concept ofthe "business power user", introduced by Rick Sherman, reflects the veracity of thisstatement, since it refers to the business employee as a user that is comfortable withtechnology, enjoys using cool tools and is savvy about IT processes (Sherman, 2009). Inthis sense, "the BI industry needs to turn its approach inside out and start with the userthan being bound by what the technology can do" (Foody, 2009). "In next-generation companies, however, innovation is pushed beyond theboundaries of the company. Customers, suppliers and strategic partners are all involvedin making the company an innovative leader" (Rodrigues, 2002).2.2.1.3. How is BI being used? "Companies should not expect a full-scale implementation from the start, as thismay be counterproductive" (Thompson, 2009). The third subject tackles a recommended process with which companies canfollow to implement a Business Intelligence system. The first step is to define information sources. Companies consider their ownpersonnel as their most important source of information. As for external sources, theyfrequently use customers, market research institutes and competitors (Hannula, 2003). Knowing the fonts of information allow a business to deploy its BI gatheringstrategy. Richard Hackathorn suggests an approach to evaluate BI that incorporates the 29
  38. 38. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?following steps: observation (looking inside the business); understanding (the dynamicsof the business); predicting (the future state of key business variables); reacting(executing a course of action); and reorganization (improving business processes byrefining best practices) (Hackathorn, 2001). Finally, companies may recruit internal power users to persuade othercolleagues to embrace and adopt new BI tools. "Because the power user is typicallyinvolved from the earliest stage of the project, he or she will likely become the mostardent advocate for the new system" (Sherman, 2009). Providing managers and staff with accurate, intuitive, and easily interpretabledata is one-third of the recipe for improvement. However, information is only as strongas how it is interpreted, and data brings two problems to the table: interpretation itselfis subjective and people may only see from one point-of-view; and then, too much focuson small bits of information may deter one from seeing the bigger picture and thusfocusing attention on too narrow BI system outcomes can bring disaster. For thesereasons it is imperative, beyond providing employees with "accurate, intuitive, andeasily interpretable data", to assure the alignment with strategic objectives and asystem for accountability (Wadsworth et al., 2009).2.2.2. Concepts and definitions BI is generally knowledge, "typically obtained about customer needs, customerdecision-making process, the competition, conditions in the industry, and generaleconomic, technological, and cultural trends. BI was born within the industrial world inthe early 90s to satisfy the managers request for efficiently and effectively analyzingthe enterprise data in order to better understand the situation of their business andimproving the decision process" (Golfarelli, 2004). Nevertheless, "current literature on BI has proved to be fairly sketchy andtheoretical" since "there is no generally agreed conception of BI but, rather, each authorhas promoted his or her own idea of its connotations" (Hannula, 2003). 30
  39. 39. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering? Defining BI can be classified under different categories: as a system to supportdecision making (Negash et al., 2003, Power, 2005, Rouibah et al., 2002, Canes, 2009,Felix, 2009), as a set of technologies (Power, 2005, Foody, 2009), as a systematicapproach to search data and information (Hannula, 2003, Cody et al., 2002) or, for someauthors, as a illustration of all categories before mentioned (Adelman et al., 2002,Negash et al., 2003).2.2.2.1. BI as a support for decision-making Behind the idea of BI as a support for decision-making is Solomon Negash andPaul Gray, who assert that BI is "a natural outgrowth of a series of previous systemsdesigned to support decision making" (Negash et al, 2003), and as "a set of concepts andmethods to improve business decision making by using fact-based support systems"(Power, 2005). Moreover, BI can be viewed as "a strategic approach for systematicallytargeting, tracking, communicating and transforming relevant weak signs intoactionable information on which strategic decision-making is based". In other words, BIis "a systematic approach by which a company keeps itself vigilant and aware ofdevelopments and early warning signs in its external environment in order to anticipatebusiness opportunities or threats" (Rouibah et al., 2002). More recently, the focus onknowledge gathering has shifted from outside the organization to the inside. Thus, BI isdefined today as "the ability to extract actionable insight from data available to theorganization, both internal and external, for the purposes of supporting decision-makingand improving corporate performance" (Canes, 2009), and more importantly, "toimprove information and enable employees to take action" (Felix, 2009).2.2.2.2. BI as a technology To refer to BI as a technology is to say that it is "a term that some financialanalysts and commentators use for categorizing a small group of software vendors andtheir products" (Power, 2005). Additionally, "BI is often described as a technology that 31
  40. 40. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?helps users visualize their business. It must be easy to understand, simple to use, andrelatively intuitive" (Foody, 2009). John K. Thompson explores the idea of BI being delivered via Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): "BI SaaS goes much further, allowing companies to outsource the analysisof multiple terabytes of information as part of an overall business intelligence strategy".The motivation behind this new solution is that "BI SaaS enables firms to implementdata analytics initiatives in a fraction of the time and capital expenditure required bytraditional installations" (Thompson, 2009).2.2.2.3. BI as a systematic approach to information and data finding BI, as a systematic approach to information and data finding, is "defined asorganized and systematic processes, which are used to acquire, analyze and disseminateinformation significant to business activities" (Hannula, 2003). This information has itsorigin in databases. "Business intelligence has applied the functionality, scalability, andreliability of modern database management systems to build ever-larger datawarehouses, and to utilize data mining techniques to extract business advantage fromthe vast amount of available enterprise data" (Cody et al., 2002). Data warehousing is "a systematic approach to collecting relevant business datainto a single repository, where it is organized and validated so that it can be analyzedand presented in a form that is useful for business decision-making" (Cody et al., 2002).2.2.2.4. BI in general terms In more general terms, BI "combines data gathering, data storage, andknowledge management with analytical tools to present complex and competitiveinformation to planners and decision makers" (Negash et al., 2003). Business Intelligence normally describes the result of in-depth analysis ofdetailed business data. It includes database and application technologies, as well asanalysis practices. BI is sometimes used synonymously with "decision support", though 32
  41. 41. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?business intelligence is technically much broader, potentially encompassing knowledgemanagement, enterprise resource planning, and data mining, among other practices(Adelman et al., 2002).2.2.2.5. Competitive Intelligence (CI) Related to the concept of BI is Competitive Intelligence (CI). CI can be defined as"a systematic and ethical program for gathering, analyzing and managing externalinformation that can affect your companys plans, decisions and operations" (Negash etal., 2003). CI can also provide information about the present and future behavior ofcompetitors, suppliers, customers, technologies, acquisitions, markets, and the generalbusiness environment (Vedder et al., 2002). The purpose of CI is to gather actionable information about competitors and,ideally, apply it to a business short and long term strategic planning. CI can be simple –scanning a company’s annual report and other public documents – or more elaborate –hiring a security specialist to penetrate a competitor’s defenses (Ettorre, 1995). For the purposes of this dissertation the analysis of BI presented here issufficient to understanding the general applications of what is meant by the termCompetitive Intelligence.2.2.3. Purpose of BI "Business intelligence is used to understand: the capabilities available in the firm;the state of the art, trends, and future directions in the markets, the technologies, andthe regulatory environment in which the firm competes; and the actions of competitorsand the implications of these actions" (Negash et al., 2003). Despite the several views about the meaning of BI, there appears to be a certainagreement towards its purpose. Solomon Negash and Paul Gray (Negash et al., 2003)present the following statement which generally describes BIs purpose: 33
  42. 42. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering? "Business intelligence systems provide actionable information delivered at theright time, at the right location, and in the right form to assist decision makers" (Negashet al., 2003). Time, in reference to BI, is related to "shrinking the information time window sothat the intelligence is still useful to the decision maker when the decision time comes"(Negash et al., 2003), which means seeking to shorten the time between data gatheringand information clearance to decision makers. Additionally, because BI systems "presentcomplex corporate and competitive information", there is a need "to improve thetimeliness and quality of the input to the decision process" (Negash et al., 2003). Overall,several other authors support that information must be promptly available to decision-makers (Hannula, 2003, Luhn, 1958, Foody, 2009). Location refers to the destiny of the information, and it can assume many forms.For instance, Hans Peter Luhn (Luhn, 1958) states that "the objective of the system is tosupply suitable information to support specific activities carried out by individuals,groups, departments, divisions, or even larger units. The admission or acquisition of newinformation, its dissemination, storage retrieval and transmittal to the action points itserves". Another author assumes that the "purpose of BI is to gather and provideinformation to help managers make more "intelligent" decisions" (Power, 2005). "Formost companies the driving force behind starting BI activities has been a need to obtainknowledge about the business environment and its development to support operativeactions" (Hannula, 2003). In the end, the place for information to be is near the decisionmaker, whether he or she is at the top or bottom-level of the organization. Form is an important trait of BI, that is, how information is presented todecision-makers. Nevertheless, "many BI professionals believe that the BI job is finishedwhen the right information is delivered to the right person at the right time"(Hackathorn, 2001). Although a "Business Intelligence System provides means forselective dissemination to each of its action points in accordance with their current 34
  43. 43. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?requirements or desires" (Luhn, 1958), sometimes "the technology (...) interferes andconfuses rather than helps the user" (Foody, 2009).2.2.4. Advantages of BI "As the cost dropped, the number of users seeking to take advantage of a BI/DWimplementation grew" (Thompson, 2009). Costs in this area are still too high forcompanies to benefit. Many analysts judge that BI solutions are out of reach for smalland medium companies who cant afford them (Negash et al., 2003; Thompson, 2009;Canes, 2009; Wagsworth, 2009). However, for those who can afford it, BI can bring several advantages, amongwhich are the following: Gaining insight from data that improves decision-making and risk mitigation (Canes, 2009); Deploying analytic databases and software across multiple locations (Thompson, 2009); Providing the analytical edge that sustains innovative programs for success over the long term (Felix, 2009); Sparking creative adaption designed to counter issues that could show down ongoing campaigns (Felix, 2009). According to the empirical study conducted by Dr. Mika Hannula (Hannula, 2003)on the top 50 Finnish Companies, the following benefits of BI were rated as important: Harmonizing the ways of thinking of company personnel; Broadening understanding of business in general; Strengthening strategic planning; Increasing professionalism in acquisition and analysis of information; Understanding the meaning of information. Even though several benefits can be found to support BI practice within anentrepreneurial context, the truth is that "most BI benefits are soft" (Negash et al., 35
  44. 44. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?2003), as they often have "constraints that (...) seem to prevent them from takingadvantage of analytics" (Thompson, 2009). For this reason, John K. Thompson(Thompson, 2009) states some advantages of using BI through Software as a Service(SaaS), as an alternative to current solutions: Value-based proofs-of-concept can be created in a matter of days; Attractive to midsize companies as well as departments and divisions of large corporations that seek to implement cost-effective, quick, and dynamic data analytics projects; Costs are reduced, performance is guaranteed, and full business insight is enjoyed; The client may specify a service-level agreement.2.2.5. Potential drawbacks and risks of BI "Traditionally, data warehousing and analytic implementations cost too much"(Thompson, 2009). One of the major drawbacks of BI is the difficulty in determining itsreturn on investment (ROI). This is mainly driven by BIs high up-front and upkeep costs(Negash et al., 2003; Thompson, 2009; Canes, 2009; Wadsworth et al., 2009)."Unfortunately, although reductions in information systems cost from efficiencies (e.g.time saved in creating and distributing reports, operating efficiencies, ability to retaincustomers) can be forecast, the IT savings are only a small portion of the payoff. It wouldbe rare for a BI system to pay for itself through cost reductions" (Negash et al., 2003)."Too many firms have concluded that the level of work required to implement atraditional data warehouse and make it a success will not produce the required return oninvestment" (Thompson, 2009). Furthermore, even though "costs of deployment (...) still continue to be the mostobvious limiting factor", some "companies must still move existing data into the newsystems themselves". In other cases "IT professionals, already strained to the hilt, areloath to assume greater responsibilities, especially projects that often deliver benefitsonly to a particular department instead of the entire enterprise". One the other hand, insome cases "Dedicated data warehouse for individual departments may be overkill" 36
  45. 45. Can new Web 2.0 tools improve Business Intelligence gathering?(Thompson, 2009). However, whenever a company wants to shift to a less expensive BIsolution, it has to face what John K. Thompson (Thompson, 2009) calls an "unwantedtrade-off: lower technology costs were being replaced by the higher costs the IT staffneeded to maintain a system, along with the cost of frequent technology updates". "Tapping the power of business intelligence is not simple, and the investment inpersonnel and infrastructure can be significant" (Wadsworth et al., 2009). Besidesimplementation costs, "putting a BI system in place includes: hardware costs, softwarecosts (...) and personnel costs" (Negash et al., 2003; Canes, 2009). Other typical barriersto the deployment of BI systems are their complexity, and associated time and effortspent by people to support those same systems (Canes, 2009). The cost of workforce time and effort with the deployment and exploitation ofsuch systems cannot easily be estimated and its benefits are in some cases doubtful.Actually, "Business analysts are drowning in a sea of data but unable to obtain theknowledge they need to address the more difficult business problems" (Foody, 2009) and"The sheer mass of the possibly relevant content can make analysis a daunting task"(Felix, 2009). Analysts thus continue to sustain negative judgments about BI. On onehand, "traditional business intelligence tools (...) appear to offer little insight" (Foody,2009). On the other hand, the offered tools "require complex queries that can be writtenonly by experts, and information is often delivered several days or weeks after it was firstrequested" (Foody, 2009; Thompson, 2009). Another limiting factor related to BI systems is their inability to account forknowledge gained from experience, i.e. tacit knowledge, in contrast to explicitknowledge, "the one incorporated in manuals, handbooks, databases and procedures"."Up to recently, companies have overlooked the first one (tacit) and emphasized thelatter one (explicit)" (Rodrigues, 2002). "Business Intelligence terms and practices in companies have not yet becomevery well established. Most firms think of BI activities as a process focusing onmonitoring the competitive environment around them" (Hannula, 2003). 37

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