Business Intelligence (BI) encompasses a broad set of terms that are used to give information about a business. The information gathered by Business Intelligence can be used to give specific and detailed information regarding a business’ viability and can help the user make qualified and better decisions.

Business Intelligence information includes several components: data mining, data analysis, forecasting, decision support system. Gathering and exploring all the data available is typically done using Business Intelligence tools from different providers: e.g. Oracle Business Intelligence, IBM Cognos, SAS).

Business Intelligence is typically applied in a company for the following purposes:

  • Performance measuring, if you are interested in exploring specific number-driven metrics and benchmarks related to a set of goals
  • Quantitative analytics, if a company uses programs to determine specific data and perform statistical analysis and/or predictive business modeling
  • Company reporting, if you should gather the number of items sold over a specific amount of time or in a specific location for a member of the board of directors
  • Knowledge management and sharing

There is some confusion about what exactly makes up the idea of Business Intelligence. A simple way to understand what Business Intelligence does is to ask some questions.

  • What happened?
  • When did it happen?
  • Who was involved?
  • How many?

The answers to these types of questions are the components of BI – it gives you specific information about an issue.

One of the keys in Business Intelligence is the validity of the data. Without reliable data, the information that you gather is skewed, and gives you an incorrect view of the business. Each business has its own specific scenarios that will change the type of Business Intelligence needed – so a thorough analysis of the information and decisions needed must be done before engaging in any type of BI process. Once you have established a reliable means of gathering data, you can determine what type of Business Intelligence you need.

Business Intelligence can give real-time information and therewith help the company management to make sound decisions and to drive the success of a business. Beyond the sales figures, it gives you a detailed look at the health and viability of the business. Acquiring Business Intelligence takes time and effort – but the results can have long-term and lasting benefits.