BI expert | Daan van Beek | Interview | Part 2

Part 2: Interview BI Expert, Daan van Beek

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Passionned Group is a leading analyst and consultancy firm specialized in Business Analytics and Business Intelligence. Our passionate advisors assist many organizations in selecting the best Business Analytics Software and applications. Every two years we organize the election of the smartest company.

Business Intelligence

Daan van Beek defines BI as ‘using data to improve and innovate.’

Other finalists of the BI awards are Tempo Team and Rituals. They’re considered intelligent organizations because they organized their core processes in a data-driven way. Some chains need three to four months to determine where they need to open a new store; Rituals determines this in less time, which has an enormous impact on their agility and efficiency.

Daan van Beek: “I daresay that if BI doesn’t lead to change, it’s a total failure.”

Two important factors

Certain factors play a role when it comes to successfully working with Business Intelligence; the environment, the complexity of the organization (which usually goes hand in hand with the size of the organization), and the amount of data an organization is able to generate (internally and externally).

Turn your data into dollars

Quoted from the book: “Business Intelligence is by no means a miracle cure.” Van Beek explains that a lot of BI companies market BI as ‘turning your data into dollars.’ He says that this is because data analysis doesn’t “cure” the company’s problems, most of the time. The early stages of Business Intelligence implementation can actually reveal even more problems. That’s why companies shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that BI is a miracle cure.

Business Intelligence versus Business Analytics

Passionned Group analyzed 70,000 tweets worldwide to find out which term was used more often: analytics or intelligence. 70 to 80% of BI suppliers spoke about Business Intelligence. Companies like SAS and IBM talked about business analytics in 70 to 80% of the cases.

The main difference between Business Intelligence and Business Analytics is that Business Analytics is a more advanced version of BI. Van Beek sees “BI” as an umbrella term to describe all the facets like predictive analytics, data discovery, etc. Therefore, companies like SAS and IBM focus on one specific aspect. You would expect that with analytics, the big differences of a company are realized. However, in all the years that Passionned organized the BI Awards, there were almost SAS clients running for the title of the most intelligent organization.

Dutch BI Award

Some of the participants are approached to participate by the jury or Passionned, but others just sign up through the website. In 2012, the winner of this award was the company ‘CoolBlue’ and a few years before ‘Albert Heijn’ won. These well-known names make the award more and more popular.

In 2013, the winner of the Dutch BI Award was the ‘Fire department Amsterdam Amstelland’. One man, who happened to be a big fan of data and had just gotten a degree in mathematics, started working at the fire department. He wanted to analyze data to try to reduce the amount of fires. He analyzed all the data, connected it to each other, and built a model to understand what kind of fires occurred where. The data showed that many cooking fires originated in areas where people like to wok (just one example). The fire department then organized awareness campaigns in high-risk areas and reduced the amount of fires.

This is a good example of a traditional organization that changed their business model, using BI to become a more innovative organization.

Risks of BI

When a company decides to implement BI, the role of the manager will change drastically. In Van Beek’s experience, managers that are not data driven lose their manager role within five years. Success stories aside, as mentioned before, 70% of the BI implementations fail.

90% of the BI companies only focus on software and modeling the data warehouse perfectly. This results in too much focus on technology, and lacking the necessary changes on the business side. These companies make it very easy to analyze the data, but in the end the data has to be used. That’s why it’s important that employees possess the right skills. Moreover, collaboration within the organization and regular feedback is crucial. According to Van Beek, this is where Passionned Group distinguishes itself from other companies. The company’s other distinguishing strengths include the research; content marketing; books and education; advising; and lastly, implementation.

Daan van Beek distinguishes two types of clients; one that thinks BI is only about technology and one that really knows what BI entails, namely: the organization itself.


Passionned Group doesn’t have many competitors. Some competitors are small businesses that Van Beek had never heard of before. Occasionally, it’s a company like Capgemini or Incentro.

It’s difficult to say if Blue Mountain is a competitor; Van Beek acknowledges that Blue Mountain also focuses on the people in organizations, instead of only the technology. What he considers a possible pitfall of Blue Mountain is that he thinks it’s almost impossible to get to the top level of both aspects; the technical aspect and the organizational aspect. Passionned addresses this by only focusing on the organizational aspect, and hires people for the technical aspect when necessary.

The other difference between Passionned and Blue Mountain is that Blue Mountain has a clear focus on the housing association market, and Passionned doesn’t have such a clear target market. However, they have occasionally had housing associations as clients, so they could still be considered competition.

Everyone wants to get their share

Although Passionned has little competition, the BI market is growing, and more and more IT companies are starting to focus on BI. Everyone wants to get their share of this booming business.

Passionned Group did research to find out which sectors are still behind when it comes to BI. The outcome of that research was that there is not one sector that is clearly behind. There are just a few companies in each sector that are ahead of other companies. And as Van Beek mentions: “It is not proven that a business cannot be successful without BI.”

to part 3

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