The goal is still the same.
As a manager, you need to get information from all your data, share and collaborate with your co workers to make better decisions. Why? To stay ahead and make money. To be the best.
Data analysis is one of the main keys. Tools needed are part of the giant Business Intelligence family. Today, with SaaS Business Intelligence services, data analysis has never been so affordable and easy.
Nevertheless, as Ted highlighted in his interesting post, "be wary of users’ ability to analyze data" (lessons from Lucidera on BI for the mid-market) and "don’t overestimate people’s ability to interpret data". Indeed, few weeks ago, Lucidera, a provider of SaaS business intelligence, stopped its activity. One of the reasons was that many users "didn't know what to do with this tool" [ie: once Lucidera let people using the tool by themselves].
This sounds very weird when many new websites about collective datasets rise on the web (Swivel, ManyEyes, GeoCommons, even Slideshare for structured data...). People seem to be very interested in analysis, even more in visual analysis but "at home"...not "at work". Because of the power of visualization? Yes, I think so. Traditionnal BI solutions have poor visual analysis capabilities while people need it: it's better to understand data (then to make decisions...) and it's eye-candy!
Give people a better solution to visualize their data and they will try to create something great...and will find meaningful information. Maybe we shouldn't call it "Business Intelligence" but "Business Visualization". As if people were experiencing a sort of recreation.
At We Are Cloud, we are fond of data visualization. Our current users like the way that it's easy to switch from figures to a visualization. Each day, we work to improve our current solution Bime. Let's have a look at our last visualization (heatmap), here. Next step: sparklines and gauges...and remember that everything is online!