From my personal experience in database development over the 15 years of my career, I have seen many businesses suffer from information glut without a means to quickly and cheaply mine their data. A single business can lose Terabytes of data every day without ever relinquish its secrets and benefiting its owner with its hidden treasures.
Businesses may or may not even know what they are looking for other then they want to make money. First they must understand what their goal is as business or business unit. Figuring out their target customers and understanding them is a start. You'd be surprised that there are many businesses that really don't understand there own customer. It is sad to see highly educated people missing this very point by being distracted by their own ego or self interests.
So to begin with: Do a use case model of your customers. Really get to know them well.
Sources that you can turn to in understanding your customer: Customers themselves, WebLogs (Use Logs), Sales/Subscription Accounting books, Customer Service Logs/Emails, and Questionnaires and Polls.