Preamble

“What I'm trying to do is deliver results.”

Lou Gerstner

Business Week

Why You Need This Book

“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely…”

So begins H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, 1898, Harper&Brothers. In the last years of the 20th century, such disbelief also prevailed. But unlike the fictional watchers from the 19th century, the late-20th century watchers were real, pioneering digitally enabled corporations. In The War of the Worlds, simple bacteria proved to be a defining weapon for both offense and defense. Today, the ultimate weapon is data. When misusing data, a corporate entity can implode. When data is used appropriately, a corporate entity can thrive.

Ever since the establishment of hieroglyphs and alphabets, data has been useful. The term business intelligence (BI) can be traced as far back as 1865 (ia601409.us.archive.org/25/items/cyclopaediacomm00devegoog). However, it wasn't until Herman Hollerith, whose company would eventually become known as International Business Machines, developed the punched card that data could be harvested at scale. Hollerith initially developed his punched card–processing technology for the 1890 U.S. government census. Later in 1937, the U.S. government contracted IBM to use its punched card–reading machines for a new, massive bookkeeping project that involved 26 million Social Security numbers.

In 1965, the U.S. government built its first ...

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