Dan Vlamis sent me a link through to a recent article by Mark Whitehorn on "Data Bashups", an idea that takes business intelligence and uses it in "mashups":
"For example, suppose you are interested in the effect an advertising spend is having citywide. Your company invested in renting several prominent and expensive billboards in a city to advertise your latest products. Your current BI system can probably return the percentage sales growth by city area over the last month as a list of raw numbers from which you can create a graph and work out whether your billboards are earning their keep. Alternatively, you could mash up the same values as a heat map laid over the city and see instantly whether the high growth correlates with the billboards' locations.
With services like Virtual Earth and Google Earth, you can do this across one city, the country, the continent or the world. Better yet, all that mapping comes free of charge. And it keeps on getting better.
Now suppose that your BI system tells you that, in the past, sales of hot dogs double whenever the local baseball team plays at home after winning three games in a row. It's a fascinating factoid, but it doesn't make you any extra profit unless you can get the extra dogs to the relevant stadium in time for the right game. Your company is very unlikely to store baseball results, but there are plenty of sites out there that do. And there are plenty of shipping companies that provide data about trucking availability and pricing. On its own, your BI system is simply predicting the future. But mash up that prediction with these external data sources and suddenly your BI system is able to predict the future in a way that you can act on quickly to increase profits."
Of course all this "mashup" talk reminds me of when I used to be a DJ, but it's no doubt a very interesting idea and one that, as Dan said in his email, links in well with all the talk around BI and Service-Orientated Architecture. I'll be keeping an eye on this area in future, and it's got me thinking about putting something like this together for one of my UKOUG conference submissions.