Seth Grimes has a great piece in Intelligent Enterprise entitled “BI at 50 Turns Back to the Future“. He reminds us of the vision that Hans Peter Luhn put forward for business intelligence back in 1958, in the IBM Journal article “A Business Intelligence System“. He further notes:
Ironically, the BI implementation Luhn described far more closely resembles the reference-library setting of the 1957 Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy movie comedy “Desk Set” than it does any system operating today. Luhn wrote of an information requestor who “telephones the librarian and states the information wanted. The librarian will then interpret the inquiry and will solicit sufficient background information… This query document is transmitted to the auto-encoding device in machine-readable form. An information pattern is then derived,” and so on.
As I discussed before, the goal of an information access system, regardless of whether we are talking about enterprise search, business intelligence, or any other variation of information seeking, is to emulate a reference librarian. It’s nice to see that this is what the pioneers had in mind.