Sometimes vendors do get it (mostly) right. Hewlett-Packard put together a brief white paper in February of this year laying out their view of Business Intelligence (BI) for 2009 (and beyond). I think that they got it largely right. Their #8 trend is the blurring of the lines of demarcation, and in particular of the data silos, between Data Warehouse (DWH), Operational Data Store (ODS) and Operational Applications (OA). Below is a summary of the trend, my thoughts on whether HP got it right and what the trend may mean for HIT.
HP Predicts: The emergence of data provisioning platforms to address the operational reporting and control needs of the business. These platforms will blend the capabilities and characteristics of DWH, ODS, and OA systems, primarily through the packaging and interlinking of the data within each of these systems. The vision appears to locate the data provisioning platform as a hub between Enterprise Service Busses (ESBs) with Data Quality and Data Access controlled by the hub. The net result should be the foundation for Operational BI (OBI) which seeks to embed, automate and package analytics in near real-time in order to enable decisioning and action in the context of the correct business process.
The Verdict: True, but this is less of a prediction and more of an observation. Furthermore, it is one of the pressures driving trend #7. Data is increasingly being “objectified” by the applications that generate, move, cleanse, enhance, report and act on it. The vision of a hub-and-spoke architecture of ESBs is intriguing and one that I have not seen in practice.
HIT Impact: Operational decisions in healthcare are fundamentally different from operational decisions in manufacturing, customer support, sales support or logistics. Aside from scheduling and billing, nearly all OAs in healthcare are directly involved in patient care. Evidence-Based Medicine, Pay-For-Performance, Value-Based Purchasing and Quality & Safety initiatives at the Federal, State, Local, Professional and Corporate levels are all contributing to a zero-defect ethos in patient care (n.b. zero-defect ethos is NOT the same thing as zero-defect mentality; zero-defect ethos is about setting zero-defects as a goal, much like six sigma is about setting 3.4 defects per million opportunities as a goal). Zero-Defect is an inherently conservative ethos and OBI in healthcare is largely untried and untested. Furthermore, OBI requires that the care context and consequent data integration challenges be defined, understood and solved first. It will be a while before there is significant, safe, effective and efficient OBI for patient care.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.