The Wall! What Wall?

Stephen Few posted this illustration of the typical BI process on his site:

I largely agree with Stephen on the different steps, which are very similar to any kind of data analysis process (you will probably leave out the “integrate”, “store” and “report” step in a non-BI / non-datawarehouse environment).

But there is one crucial point lacking in this illustration. Once you start to explore the data, the whole thing stops to be linear but gets to be very iterative, jumping over the wall every now and then. I.e., you may find out that the data cleaning is insufficient, or the model you have in mind needs some other transformation of the data, or you might want to collect additional or other data altogether.

The wall does exist, but I think it is more separating two kinds of people / thinking:

The solution to the problem Stephen addresses is from my point of view that analysts and tool builder need to work together more closely regarding tool development, rather than leaving it to the marketing departments what the next release will look like.

One thing is for sure: we won’t succeed if analysts continue to build useful but technically insufficient tools and computer scientists still build fancy tools that merely help the analysts.

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