Business Intelligence enables an organisation to collect and analyse internal and external data to generate knowledge and business value, and provide decision support at the strategic, tactical, and operational levels. Today, business success is based on constantly turning data into information by effectively collecting, cleaning, transforming, integrating, analysing, and monitoring it. As a result, information has become an asset, and information technologies the key to obtain competitive advantages from this asset.

Nowadays, organisations face the problem that data continues to grow out of control, which is also known as "big data". Big data is increasingly in non-traditional forms such as unstructured (e.g. tweets), social network (e.g., Facebook), and location-related (e.g. GPS) data. Advanced application domains such as the energy sector, public service, and geo-social networks require novel technologies and products supporting advanced analytics functionality on top of such data. The largest software companies acknowledge this fact, and invest large amounts of money in research and development to address it.

From the above analysis, we can infer the following needs:

  • N1: A large number of top-qualified innovative BI researchers are needed by both academia and industry in Europe.
  • N2: Break-through research contributions are needed to enable the extraction of valuable information from the ever larger and more diverse data sources.
  • N3: Novel BI technologies and products are needed to provide advanced analytics functionality for large data volumes in specialized domains.
  • N4: European industry needs knowledge about leading-edge BI techniques.
  • N5: A unified European organisation is needed to coordinate, lead, and perform research within BI.

Despite the crucial importance in terms of business and societal impact, the above needs are inadequately covered by current research programs in BI. There is a lack of a coordinated programme that covers the total range of topics needed for future BI scenarios. The ongoing Erasmus Mundus Master Course IT4BI, as well as other computer science programs, will produce a string of master graduates within the BI area. They need a dedicated doctoral programme for continue their training within BI topics in order to produce the required breakthrough technologies needed to address the crucial challenges for the years to come.

The IT4BI-DC programme is designed to meet exactly these needs. Its main objective is to train researchers who truly understand leading-edge BI techniques and can turn this into innovative solutions. It will prepare the graduates both for a BI research career and, equally important, for a BI career in the ICT or services industry, or in public services. This is achieved through a strong interdisciplinary combination of excellent researchers from full partners and leading associated partners from industry, academia, and public institutions.

The objectives of IT4BI-DC, related to the needs analysis performed above, can be summarised as follows:

  • O1: To educate and train more than 100 top BI Doctoral Candidates in Europe for both research and innovative professional careers, thus meeting Need N1.
  • O2: To provide breakthough research contributions within BI and publish them in top scientific outlets, thus meeting Need N2.
  • O3: To contribute to developing advanced technologies and products within BI, thus meeting Need N3.
  • O4: To establish the European Business Intelligence Research and Development (eBIRD) Network, bringing together BI researchers, vendors, professionals, and users, and use it to disseminate the generated knowledge widely, thus meeting Need N4.
  • O5: To establish an integrated pan-European Centre of Excellence in BI serving as the nucleus of the eBIRD Network. It will be composed of the full partners, in addition to equipment, data sets, and legal framework, and will be sustainable beyond the project period, thus meeting Need N5.