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Introduction to Business Intelligence and its Types

  • Ishita Bhatt
  • Jan 07, 2022
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About Business Intelligence (BI) and its working


Business Intelligence or BI combines business analysis, data mining, data visualization, data infrastructure and tools, and best practices to help organizations make informed decisions and create more data. 


In fact, you know you have modern business intelligence when you have complete visibility into your company’s data and use it to drive the required changes, remove inefficiencies, and adapt quickly and efficiently to changes in market or supply. It must be noted that this is a very modern definition of Business Intelligence and that BI has a history of being stifled as a buzzword. 


Primitive business intelligence, in general, was originally introduced in the 1960s as a system for sharing information between multiple organizations. It was then developed in the 1980s alongside computer models for decision-making and data-to-information before becoming a specific offering for BI teams with IT-reliant service solutions. 


Modern BI solutions usually prioritize flexible self-service analytics, managed data on trusted platforms, authorized business users, and speed of information retrieval. 


Business intelligence or BI should be considered more than just a specific "thing". This is a comprehensive term that includes the processes and methods used to collect, store, and analyze data from business processes or activities to optimize performance. Together, this entire process creates a comprehensive vision of the business that helps people make better and more practical decisions. 


Over the past few years, business intelligence (BI) has come a long way to cover more processes and activities in order to improvise on business performance. These processes further include the following:


  • Data mining: Use databases, statistics, and machine learning to uncover trends in large datasets. 


  • Report: Data analysis must be shared with stakeholders to help them draw conclusions and make impactful decisions.  


  • Performance Metrics and Benchmarks: Comparison between current performance data and historical data is a must, generally by using custom dashboards in order to track performance against your goals. 


  • Descriptive analysis: The use of preliminary descriptive analysis in order to find out what happened the way it happened.


  • Query: Ask a data-specific question. BI pulls the answer from the data record


  • Statistical analysis: Take over the results of descriptive analysis and further investigate the data with the help of statistical data analysis.


  • Data visualization: Transformation of data analysis into visual representations, for example, charts, histograms, graphs, etc to facilitate the processing of your data more efficiently.


  • Visual Analysis: Explore data through visual storytelling, convey insights quickly in no time, and remain consistent in the flow of analysis.  


  • Data Preparation: Combine multiple required data sources, identify dimensions and key figures, and prepare them for data analysis.


Importance of Business Intelligence


Business intelligence helps companies make better decisions by displaying current and historical data in a business context. Analysts can use business intelligence to provide performance and set benchmarks to their peers, thus, allowing organizations to run more smoothly and efficiently. 


Analysts can also easily spot market trends to increase sales and revenue. Properly used data helps you with everything from compliance to recruitment. Here are some ways business intelligence can help organizations make wiser, data-driven decisions. 


  • Identification of multiple ways to increase profits 

  •  Analyzing customer behavior 

  •  Compare data with competitors 

  •  Track performance 

  •  Operational optimization 

  •  Predict success 

  •  Spot market trends 

  •  Discover  problems and find solutions


Types of Business Intelligence Tools


Many Business Intelligence tools in the market offer similar features and performance. But what makes one BI implementation different from the other is how the solution is applied to support decision making. Following is mentioned some of the most common ways to use BI tools :


  1. Executive scorecard and dashboard 


The company's topmost-level managers generally don't have time to create ad hoc reports. As a result, many business intelligence tools provide executives with real-time monitoring of key performance indicators to provide a graphical dashboard that gives an overview of the company's overall situation at a glance.


  1. OLAP analysis 


Business analysts and other power users, who are responsible for revealing the most sophisticated trends in the corporate data, need to be able to analyze the information in detail. 


Most business intelligence tools provide a wide range of online analytical processing (OLAP) capabilities that give users instant access to their data in an unlimited number of ways, so they can see their data from multiple perspectives. 


  1. Ad hoc report 


In many cases, updating the content of existing reports is sufficient to meet the specific information needs of employees. However, employees often need to quickly create new reports to answer urgent questions, make voluntary decisions, and resolve the following issues: 


  • Many of today's most popular business intelligence tools have the ability to quickly, and 

  • Easily create and generate your own custom reports, even for non-technical users.


  1. Operation report 


Every day,  every company performs thousands of operational tasks. Organizations perform these activities, and inefficiencies and errors can have a significant impact on performance. 


Business intelligence tools can be used to support the type of operational reporting that enables real-time monitoring of daily events. In this way, you can quickly identify and fix the problem.


  1. Forecast 


The ability of a company to predict trends is important for maintaining organizational flexibility and agility. In addition, historical data should be used to predict future events to ensure effective strategic planning. For this reason, many business intelligence tools include predictive analytics, which allows for quick and highly accurate forecasts.


  1. Data mining 


Today's businesses manage vast amounts of information. Sorting that data to find the ones that are most relevant can also be a daunting task, especially for non-technical business users. 


The data mining capabilities of many business intelligence tools help you find and extract the most important information from large datasets, so you don't have to waste time searching for the data, you need to get the information you really need. This proves to be much easier to access and use.


  1. Customer intelligence 


As companies aim to be more customer-centric, they are looking to business intelligence tools to collect and integrate customer data that resides in various systems such as CRM, accounting, and help desk applications. 


This gives enterprises a complete 360-degree view of all customer interactions so that companies better understand their needs, behaviors, and preferences and use that knowledge for more successful loyalty and upsell/cross-sell programs.


In the end, business intelligence shouldn't be intimidating. There are many resources for educating and empowering employers. There are many different business intelligence tools you can experiment with. The more educated the user base, the more comprehensive and powerful the features. BI is a versatile and powerful resource that can be useful in virtually any industry. 


(Suggested reading: What is Self-Service Business Intelligence?)

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