Business intelligence (BI) is a process involving the analysis of data wherein the results are used by business and corporations to make informed decisions. The breadth and reach of BI comprises strategies, processes, methodologies and technologies to support data collection and analysis as well as business information presentation and dissemination. With BI, businesses are able to source data from within and from outside their organization, subject data for analysis and run queries against it, and generate data reports and visualizations for corporate executives, department managers, teams and other end users.
BI analysis provides corporate decision makers with actionable information to pursue both operational and strategic goals. As such, BI technologies are designed to handle and interpret big data, whether structured or unstructured, in order to identify and develop new business opportunities. Likewise, BI can go over and analyze financial records and operational statistics to identify areas that need improvement. Moreover, BI has a most useful goal management function that allows managers to program data according to goals set on a day-to-day basis. These goals could be financial objectives, sales targets, marketing aims or productivity measures.
Additionally, BI can integrate some forms of advanced analytics (e.g. data mining, predictive analytics) but mostly these are managed by separate teams of data scientists, predictive modelers and statisticians. On the other hand, BI programs are handled by IT teams for typical data collection, analysis and query as well as creation of reports. Lately, the availability of easy-to-use business intelligence platforms allowed end users like corporate executives, business professionals and employees to use BI programs directly for themselves.
The question “what is the use of BI” can best be answered by its many functionalities and capabilities that include:
If you need more information on what is the purpose of business intelligence in a business check out our other article on that topic.
Enterprises can gain insights from BI to help in tactical and strategic decisions. It must be understood that “intelligence” is most effective when data is collected from various sources – internal (corporate operations and finance data), external (customer information, market situation) – in order to derive a complete, consolidated view of what’s happening within and around your business and the landscape it is in. Armed with insights, decision makers can identify new and emerging opportunities and plot effective strategies to provide the business with a competitive advantage and long-term stability. Examples of areas where BI can support and guide businesses in important decisions include:
Business intelligence and business analytics are often used interchangeably since both involve collecting and analyzing data and use predictive analytics to create highly visualized reports. The similarities end there. While BI optimizes and streamlines current operations through its powerful reporting and data analysis mechanisms that generate visual reports consisting of actionable information, business analytics on the other hand explores and analyzes previous and current data through data mining, statistical analysis as well as quantitative analysis. It does these to pinpoint past business trends and predict future business situations. Essentially, business analytics employs advanced predictive analysis to identify issues before they happen.
Although BI and business analytics have the same goal of enhancing a company’s viability and efficiency by using data analysis, they perform different functions in a business. BI is all about compiling and accessing big data and extracting insights, while business analytics is about forecasting upcoming developments based on all those past and present data in order for a business to be prepared for new challenges. Although BI and BA have defined roles with the former telling you what happened and what’s happening and the latter predicting what will happen next, businesses usually utilize both to cover all possible opportunities and eventualities in an ever changing market environment.
More and more companies are discovering the advantages of business intelligence software as the need and use of data analytics grows. If you are still unclear on what is the use of BI, here are concrete examples of industry segments where BI has gained a foothold and is increasingly being utilized.
With a host of functions and a distinct role, BI brings immense benefits for your business. Typical BI solutions allow you to do the following:
Although the above examples may be too general in scope and circumstance, each can have a profound and lasting impact on your business. Itemizing specific advantages of BI for your company may need another article. Suffice to say that business intelligence will permeate and influence every aspect of your business processes – sales, marketing, management, administration, operations, performance, targets, directions – simply because each of these areas require large data that need to be collected, filtered, analyzed and known by key people who decides the what, when, who and how to keep your business healthy and profitable.
Business intelligence combines many different methods for data analysis and various means for reporting. These tools for analytical processing and enterprise reporting can be acquired separately and are available as specialized programs. However, several platforms have come about that offer all-in-one solutions in a single package. We go over some of the leading applications that carry essential BI capabilities.
If your company is using systems for customer relations, project management, inventory management, data mining or any other business optimization apps, a BI platform is an important addition that can complement and support all your other tools to keep your business in tip-top shape. In today’s competitive business environment, you need all the help you can get to stay on top of the game, and a BI tool will come in handy to keep you informed and guided in your crucial business decisions.
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