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Business Intelligence – How It Transformed the Business World

Business Intelligence – How It Transformed the Business World

Business Intelligence (BI) is a set of tools and techniques that process raw data into meaningful information and useful statistics for analytical purposes, that can help achieve greater and more beneficial results.

If we are to really understand the term ‘business intelligence’, perhaps this little piece from history will help. The term was originally put together by Richard Miller Devens in 1865 in his reference to Sri Henry Furnese, the prominent government financier in England between the years 1705 and 1710. Describing Furnese’s business acumen and his accurate reading of monetary situations, Devens wrote that “he maintained a complete and perfect train of business intelligence”. Here he was, of course, referring to the ability of Furnese to collect information, correlate the information and react accurately based on the information retrieved and collated. This is the essence of true “Business Intelligence”.

In today’s highly advanced and competitive business driven outlook, BI allows easy handling and interpretation of unstructured data or input of large amounts of information to help identify, create and develop strategic and long-term business opportunities while at the same plugging loopholes and strengthening systems. For commercial businesses world over, this is the key to implementing effective strategies based on the insights provided to gain competitive advantages in the market and gain long-standing stability.

Business Intelligence technologies provide a wide range of informative views in business operations – current, historical and predictive. Common functions of BI included:

• Analysis
• Benchmarking
• Business performance management
• Complex event processing
• Data mining
• Online analytical processing
• Predictive analytics
• Prescriptive analytics
• Process mining
• Reporting
• Text mining

Business decisions that are supported by BI techniques include operational, strategic and many others.

• Operational decisions cover market positioning of products and services, and pricing

• Strategic decisions include directions, goals and priorities on a broad level

In all, Business Intelligence can be most effective only when it involves combination of data derived from the market segment in which the business operates, which is classified as ‘external data’ along with data from internal company areas such as finance and operations, which is classified as ‘internal data’. No single set of data, either external or internal can create the ‘intelligence’ that is required to provide a complete analysis of business functions and results.

Business Intelligence Software

BI software refers to programs that can analyze data and organize the information for better decision making. Since first being introduced in the 1960s as ‘decision support systems’, Business Intelligence software has quickly gained traction in the business world with several software companies producing business intelligence tools for specific types of data gathering.

One of the most happening trends in the Business Intelligence domain is the prominent shift in software architecture and design that are seeing more user-friendly applications. Business users are increasingly using these applications to analyze and review specific sets of data pertaining to departments such as finance, business operations, marketing, procurement, retail etc. The growth of technology and the Web have increased demands for BI tools that are able to analyze large mountains of data.

To be a successful data driven organization, a business needs a combination of analysis and predictions. Over the last few decades, ‘data’ has moved from being a customer-based requirement to one that enterprises need to stay ahead of competition. The year 2015 is predicted to see big changes in enterprise information management, as analysts and vendors try to predict what the market will need next.