BI and The Limitations of Human Cognition in Den Bosch

den bosch banner

I presented at my first conference of the year last week, the Heliview Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing 2012 conference in ‘s Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.

The first keynote, by Erasmus scholar Dr. Roeland Dietvorst, was about “Performance Management in the Brain”, and a subject close to my heart: the (severe) limitations we evolved apes have when trying to make rational decisions. He illustrated his point with examples of great research that show that:

  • Including “irrelevant” product choices can make big changes to preferences;
  • Our emotional state has a big influence on what choices we make;
  • Men shown pictures of attractive women tend to make worse financial decisions;
  • etc

He also reviewed some of his own research, scanning the brains of sales people to see if there was a correlation between brain activity, competence in understanding other people’s state of mind, and selling skills. He finished by underlining that we have “two brains,” and that business intelligence can help us move decision making to our more rational, less emotional side.


I did the other morning keynote on “Real time enterprise from theory to practice”:

“The amount of information we face is growing by the day. Both volume and type of information. IT organizations not only incorporate customer or product data, but new sources such as location data and data streams from social media play a significant role. In addition, we want information available in the context in which we operate, and preferably independent of the site or device. To make this possible innovative solutions are needed that can work with large volumes of data. In-memory computing may by some be considered as not yet available but the reality is different. There are several examples where this is being successfully implemented and numerous organizations are achieving demonstrable benefit. This presentation shows that the real-time revolution has already started and how it’s being practiced today.”

The presentation reviews the state of the BI market and technology, and ends with some examples of companies using information to change the way they do business.

I’ll be in London next week presenting at the Gartner BI Summit 2012 — hope to see you there!

Update: here’s a nice write-up from the Dutch team about the event.