How Will We Make Decisions in the Future?

How will we make decisions in the future? Bruno Aziza, Worldwide Lead Strategist for Microsoft’s Business Intelligence group culled the wisdom of the crowd to help him peer into the future.

A little less than a month ago, I asked people via multiple networks and forums what they thought business intelligence would look like in 2020.

Some folks were cautious in their forecasts.  One respondent told me that maybe – just maybe – if by 2020 we have solved  quality and integration issues, and if continue to improve usability and make the use of mash-ups more efficient, we'll finally get to the point where non-technical users finally benefit from BI without involvement lot of help from IT.
Others predicted that data sources won’t even matter anymore. Even search engines might be passé.  They argued that people will be able to ask questions to a computer that is smart enough to ask for clarification before answering the question.  This ties well with a prediction I heard – and that is supported by our own work on natural user interfaces – that verbal communication with a computer could soon be common.

Finally, two respondents said that spreadsheets might be less important in the future and that people will favor technology that pushes answers to them, rather than requiring people to look for the right information.
These predictions can help all us picture the future for business intelligence, and perhaps align our actions to make it happen.
My own bets for business intelligence in 2020 include the notion that collaboration and business intelligence will be linked more closely so that it becomes more obvious that decisions are based on hard data as well as the knowledge and opinions from co-workers, partners and friends.

I also agree that data sources won't matter to end-users.  I actually don't know that they should matter to people today.  I hope that technology will guide people’s decisions more efficiently because it can filter out irrelevant information and focus on information that improves insights and actions.
Last but not least: Culture will change. A culture of performance is the one factor that allows organization to gain continuous success across multiple generations of people and technology.   I see day after day the rewards and competitive advantage organizations gain by moving from a gut-feel type of management style to a more rigorous, data-driven decision-making system. 
If you have any feedback or thoughts, please feel free to email me directly at