While Business Intelligence is not a new issue, cloud based business intelligence as a service (BIaaS) is a topic worth noting – because it is starting to catch on equaling the playing ground between big players in ERP and CRM with smaller players who could seriously benefit from this service. But here are some interesting spins that few people might be thinking about.
The web service “Blippy” (which also has an API here) is as they state “Blippy lets you communicate about and share purchases with friends by syncing already existing e-commerce accounts to Blippy such as iTunes, Netflix, Woot, eBay and more.” (source Blippy About page). The Blippy API has a search feature so for those companies seeing who is buying what (limited audience data though) and put into a Business Intelligence as a Service would be an interesting way of collecting data about competitors, then mashing that data up along with your own sales and tracking records.
Business Intelligence especially as a service can use data from multiple sources, Salesforce, public wish lists, ecommerce systems, without the limitation on Business Intelligence sources that the data must be only in-house data. Adding a nuance to this by incorporating data that people freely give up with services like Blippy or others could add a very good way of determining the purchase habits of your customers by using large scale public information sources. In going through the Blippy Terms of Service, it would seem that this is an acceptable use as long as you are not publishing the data publicly. This brings up the secondary interesting process here in predictive modeling of consumer behavior.
If you have a good source of shopping information about your customers who are buying things, and coordinating that through data provided by other 3rd party systems like Blippy, you can get to the point where you know what your customer is up to, and what they might be shopping for now, or would be interested in purchasing much like the Apple Genius Bar in ITunes. This is where things get interesting for companies, because Blippy is not the only source of consumer information, sites like Offermatic and other financial voyeur sites that have an API to pull data back to a BI data system for data mining is probably one of the best things that a company can do right now to see where people are spending money and what they are spending money on.
Privacy pundits are going to have a field day with this as the awareness of Business Intelligence as a Service allows for the predictive modeling of consumer behavior based on public information that those consumers are giving up already on social sites. While the quality of the data could be questionable (how many people lie about what they purchase), and the data mining could be incomplete (scenario planning could be hampered by incomplete or false data) it would be easy to program a “confidence level” as to the accuracy of the data into the BI data set. This could be a very interesting way to approach sales and marketing if you can track what people are spending based on what they say and share in public wish lists, Blippy or other sites. The question is, what will the eventual usefulness of that kind of data be to a company, and how in the future will privacy be approached in an era of sharing too much.