A couple of weekends ago I went to a block party.  While clamoring around the hors d’oeuvres spread, I met a neighbor who moved in last fall. As often happens at events like this, the topic suddenly turned to Business Intelligence (BI). OK, it was actually a pretty good party, and admittedly conversations about Business Intelligence are seldom a benchmark for great social gatherings. But, after throwing out the icebreaker, “So what do you do when you’re not drinking beer and having a full go at the shrimp Bob?” I learned that Bob was running a major BI initiative for a leading global commercial finance operation.

My interest was now piqued. Like a good nosey neighbor I pried further. What Bob shared was fascinating, innovative, and based on my understanding of today’s data climate – strategically brilliant. I was listening so intently that I hadn’t noticed I was now body blocking the aforementioned shrimp. At least not until I got ‘the evil eye’ from the hostess who glanced down at the dozen or so discarded tails on my paper plate and motioned for me to move on. Smiling meekly I apologized and asked Bob if I could score him another beer while we moved the conversation to the porch. There Bob continued, and as he spoke Brando’s epic line at the end of Apocalypse Now ran through the back of my mind:

“And I thought, my God… the genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure.”

So, what is Bob working on?

With the full support of his CEO, Bob is providing technology leadership and professional services to help their mid-market customers successfully deploy Business Intelligence initiatives – and giving most of it away. As I came to realize the “why” behind it he saw me grinning, and paused. I did my best to spit out the Brando quote referenced above without having Googled it first. He smiled back, and continued. “Exactly. Our CEO gets it. The number one reason we dove head first into BI ourselves was to increase competitive advantage. He  decided that diverting some marketing spend from new customer acquisition to helping our current customers become more competitive might be another way to grow the business. The customer gets more competitive, they grow, and they need more capital to fuel that growth. Simple.”

I’m planning to buy Bob lunch at the end of the month in hopes of learning more.

What do you think? Is Bob’s CEO right? Is the strategy, “Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure.”?