Business intelligence refers to the process of utilizing software and services to turn data into intelligence that can be used. This intelligence can be used to guide a business’ tactical and strategic decisions. In this article, we provide an in-depth overview of business intelligence and discuss why organizations should use it and how they can use it to their advantage. Business intelligence is a process that relies on technology to analyze data and provide actionable information that the executives, managers, and other corporate end users can use to make the most informed business decisions. It comprises a large array of tools, applications and processes that make it possible for a business to gather data from both internal systems and external sources. Once that information is collected, the key decision makers of an organization can prepare it to be analyzed, develop and run questions regarding that data, and develop reports, dashboards and visualizations in order to present the analytical results to the decision makers for an organization, as well as an organization’s operational workers.
Business analytics and business intelligence are often used interchangeably; however, the two do differ. Business analytics is also known as descriptive analytics because it illustrates past or current information. Business analytics doesn’t tell an organization’s key players what they should do; rather, it tells them what once was and what currently is.
Business intelligence offers key benefits for an organization. The tools that are used to perform business intelligence can help to accelerate and improve the decisions that key corporate players make. It can also help to make the most of internal business processes, as it can increase operational efficiency, drive new revenues, and help businesses gain a competitive edge over their rivals. Additionally, business intelligence can assist new companies with determining trends in their industry’s market, as well as pinpoint potential issues that need to be addressed.
The data that is collected by business intelligence can comprise past information that is kept in a data warehouse. It can also include new data from source systems as that data is developed, thus allowing the tools that are used for business intelligence to support the strategic and tactical processes that go into making important decisions.
Business intelligence isn’t only valuable for enterprise companies; businesses of all shapes and sizes and across a variety of industries can benefit from business intelligence. Some of the biggest benefits that business intelligence provides include:
Business intelligence blends a large set of applications that are used for data analysis, which includes:
Other technologies that are used in business intelligence include:
In recent years, tools that make data visualization possible have become the standard of business intelligence.
Some business intelligence programs also use advanced analytics tools, which can include:
However, in a lot of situations, advanced analytics projects are executed and managed by different teams of data scientists, predictive modelers, experts in statistical analysis, as well as other individuals who are highly skilled in analytics.
The data that is collected via business intelligence is usually stored in a data warehouse that holds divisions of an organization’s information. Prior to being used in business intelligence applications, raw data that is collected from various source systems has to be integrated, merged and cleansed. This is process is complete with tools that allow for data quality and data integration. This ensures that the information is being properly analyzed by users, and that users are receiving consistent information.
Previously, the primary users of business intelligence applications were professionals in the IT sector. However, in recent years, the tools that are used for business intelligence have evolved and have become more intuitive and user-friendly. This has made it possible for a large amount of users across various organizational domains to take advantage of these tools.
There are two main ways business intelligence is used:
The majority of businesses prefer classic business intelligence for specific types of reporting where accuracy is exceedingly important; regulatory and financial reports, for example. When businesses require insight into dynamics that change quickly, companies tend to rely on modern business intelligence tools. For example, businesses may use modern business intelligence tools for marketing events, as being fast is more valued over getting the data completely correct.
The Introduction of Self Service Business Intelligence
Software developers are reacting to the demand for multiple capabilities for business intelligence tools. As such, they are re-engineering the products that they offer so that they include multiple functionalities within a single platform.
This has led to the development of self-service business intelligence that anyone – outside of IT professionals – can use. However, IT does still play a key role in the use of business intelligence for many organizations. Why? – Because IT still has to determine and manage policies. They also have to handle the governance and enablement that surrounds the data, as well as the access to it. Furthermore, these professionals have to work with users to ensure that business intelligence tools are providing the insights that they seek.
As with all things related to business, there are trends that relate to business intelligence. Some of the biggest trends in business intelligence include:
Business intelligence is a highly valuable tool that all businesses can benefit from. When used properly, it can boost success, increase return on investment, and provide better customer satisfaction.