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What is Business Intelligence?

What is Business Intelligence?

by
Tatyana Borodina
“Business Intelligence is about providing the right data at the right time to the right people so that they can take the right decisions” - Nic Smith with Microsoft BI Solutions Marketing

The above statement is clearly pointing at the basic idea of a Business Intelligence definition. In just one line, it gives us an understanding of the objective (providing right data) as well as the usefulness(take the right decisions) of the process of BI. These two notions are crucial in understanding “What is Business Intelligence”.

In this blog, we will try to define Business Intelligence, considering examples of BI as well as make an effort to try and answer the question of why is Business Intelligence BI important.

Introduction to Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence can be defined as a combination of Data Analysis and the processes of data collection, data storage and data management. The aim of Business Intelligence is to evaluate (through data analysis) and convert raw data and information into actionable and meaningful insights. These insights have a positive impact on the different kinds of business decisions of the organization.

In simplest terms, the term Business Intelligence would refer to an umbrella which covers Data tools, Data Visualization, Data Mining, Infrastructure, Data Analytics and so on, in order to provide easy and understandable summaries which could help organizations to make decisions which are data-driven.

Why Business Intelligence

In this section, we will try to understand why Business Intelligence is important. Business Intelligence has come to be regarded as crucial for improving the efficiency of business operations. This is because relevant data which produces valuable insights, not only helps in improving the business process, but it also helps in effective decision making. This, in turn, positively affects revenue as well as productivity of the business enterprise and grants them a competitive advantage.

Consider a situation where a business enterprise is unable to take advantage of BI and hence is not able to make decisions which are data-driven. Given so, the decision makers and the executives would have no other choice but to make decisions based on factors like past experience, gathered knowledge, or at best, depend on their intuition and gut feeling.

While it would be wrong to suggest that decisions resulting from this process are bound to be bad. However, this process would increase the possibilities for errors and lapses (especially in understanding customer behavior). Thus, in trying to understand what is Business Intelligence; one can look at it as a savior which can help enterprises to make profitable decisions.

Why Business Intelligence

In understanding why Business Intelligence is important, it is important to look at the advantages of BI. One way to define Business Intelligence BI would be to look at it as a blessing for the entire organization. Not only does it help the executives in evaluating business performance, but can be useful in detecting distribution, manufacturing and supply chain bottlenecks.

Additionally, Business Intelligence solutions are helpful in simplifying the process of employee evaluation through improved monitoring and in improving the process of marketing through a more clear understanding of customer needs and requirements.

BI can be used in combination with machine learning to increase efficiency and reduce costs. By using machine learning algorithms, businesses can identify patterns in large datasets to make predictions about future trends or patterns. For example, by analyzing customer behavior data through a algorithm such as k-means clustering, an organization could get an understanding of how customers interact with products or services and target them accordingly.

become a Business Intelligence expert

Business Intelligence vs. Business Analytics

Business Analytics is an important part of the Business Intelligence systems. This means that the field of Business Intelligence and Business Analytics are overlapping. The most important similarity between the two is that both try to provide information on the operation of business through analyzing data. So you might be thinking how then is BI different from Business Analytics.

Let us try to answer this question by looking at the example of a football match. Now suppose, you are the coach of the team which won the match recently and you try to review the game which just happened in order to rectify any mistakes which your team might have made. There can be several ways by which you can do this.

One way would be to look at all the statistics. If you use a Business Intelligence approach, you might conclude that an important positive point was that your players had possession of the ball for much longer than the opponent team.

However, if you use a Business Analytics approach, you will try to go one step further and find out why the players had possession of the ball longer than the opponent team. This is the difference between Business Intelligence and Business Analytics.

While BI tries to answer the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of an event (describing the event); Business Analytics tries to answer the ‘why’ of an event (understanding the reason behind the event).

Thus, Business Intelligence is largely descriptive. This implies that it seeks to explain the existing state of affairs within a business enterprise. Business Analytics on the other hand, is also predictive (is able to predict future trends through predictive analytics) and prescriptive (is able to provide solutions for addressing an existing problem or achieving targeted goals). Thus, Business Analytics can be seen as a whole of which Business Intelligence is an important part.

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What is a Business Intelligence Process?

The first step in the BI process involves the collection of raw data from all possible data sources. The data is then stored in a data warehouse or in smaller data marts. Additionally, data lakes can also be used as storage facilities for sensor data, log files and other kinds of semi structured or unstructured data.

The next step involves cleaning, integration and consolidation of data by Data Quality Management and Data Integration tools. Data has to be converted into a state where they become suitable for analysis. This is the data preparation stage.

After that, the Business Intelligence Analysts and other professionals perform analysis of data by asking queries, requesting ad-hoc reports and so on. At the end, the results obtained from the query are transformed into reports, dashboards, Data Visualizations and online portals.

This valuable data insights which are now available in an easy and understandable form is then used by business executives for strategic planning and decision making.

Business Intelligence Process

Define Business Intelligence (Tools and Techniques)

The Business Intelligence BI definition gives an idea of BI being a phenomenon which covers a number of tools and technologies. Its most important categories include:

  • Visualizations
  • Dashboards
  • Data mining
  • Reporting
  • OLAP (Online Analytical Processing)
  • ETL (Extract-Transfer-Load)

Among these, the dashboards and visualizations are the most common as they provide easy and understandable data summaries. An understanding of what is Business Intelligence will make no sense, unless one considers the BI tools through which the process of self service Business Intelligence is carried out. Let us look at some of the most common ones.

  1. Tableau: This is one of the most common self-service BI analytics platforms. It provides services like data visualization, and also provides for integration of multiple data sources, including Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Azure SQL Data Warehouse. It is one of the most renowned Data Visualization tools
  2. Qlik: This tool is based on Data Analytics, Business Intelligence and Data Visualization. It provides a scalable and an extensive BI platform
  3. Splunk: It is referred to as the “guided analytics platform” which is an expert in providing enterprise-grade Data Analytics and Business Intelligence
  4. Domo: It is a cloud based platform which provides highly specialized tools of Business Intelligence for different industries and roles
  5. Alteryx: This tool is helpful in combining analytics from different sources which helps in simplifying workflows
  6. Birst: It is a cloud based platform in which different forms of Business Intelligence software are linked to a common data backend
  7. Dundas BI: This tool is essentially used for creating scoreboards and dashboards, but can even be used for ad-hoc and standard reporting
  8. Einstein Analytics: This tool seeks to improve upon Business Intelligence through Artificial Intelligence
    Know more about the most important BI tools. Check out our blog on "Top 10 Business Intelligence Tools"

The importance of developing skills needed to execute the process of Business Intelligence has become an industrial necessity. Consequently, individuals skilled in the task have emerged as prospective candidates, in great demand, within the job market.

Business Intelligence Examples

Business Intelligence is not simply about the generation of reports. It provides a specific system for extracting information and understanding historical and current data which could result in good business decisions. Examples of Business Intelligence are visible at different stages of the business operation process as well as are used in industries, cutting across sectors.

For instance, financial service enterprises might use Business Intelligence platforms for risk assessment during the policy and loan approval processes. Similarly, it can be advantageous for retailers as it helps them in inventory management, planning of promotions as well as management of marketing campaigns. On the same note, manufacturers are increasingly becoming dependent on Business Intelligence for real-time and historical analysis of plant business operations, which in turn helps in the management of distribution and production planning.

Examples of Business Intelligence are present across industries. Healthcare organizations increasingly use Business Intelligence and Data Analytics for the diagnosis of medical conditions and diseases. Hotel chains and airlines have also been using BI for estimating room occupancy rates and flight capacity, scheduling workers and deciding upon prices. Business Intelligence has made inroads into the educational sphere as well, as schools and universities are using BI to evaluate student performance in order to recognize students who might be in need of special assistance.

Why is Business Intelligence Important: Career Options Available

The Business Intelligence market is expanding across the globe. However, this increasing demand is not being able to be fulfilled through a steady supply of experts and professionals. The scarcity of people skilled in the field implies that there are considerable opportunities within the domain. In this section, we will try to understand why Business Intelligence is important, by exploring the field in terms of its career prospects.

If you are skilled in the BI tools and techniques, it might land you with some of the most lucrative job titles.

  • Business Intelligence Project Manager: Project Managers within the field have the main responsibility of coordinating with internal teams in order to build and make use of apps, portals and data warehouses. They also have the role of identifying business problems and come up with solutions for rectifying the same.
  • Business Intelligence Analyst: This job role happens to be engaged in developing a detailed understanding of departmental databases, business processes, data warehouses and production systems.
  • Business Intelligence Administrator: They have the main responsibility of deciding upon the most efficient and effective means for the acquisition of data for the purpose of analysis.
  • Business Intelligence Developer: Within this job role, individuals have the responsibility to provide appropriate solutions as per the requirements of the clients. They also have the responsibility for developing ETL which can respond to the requirements of data integration.
  • Business Intelligence Consultant: These individuals are engaged in catering to the needs of the organizations in learning new strategies which could help in the management of data.
Business Intelligence Career prospects

The salary of some of the most important job titles is quite high. Individuals, who earn the designation of being a BI Architect, can expect an annual salary of $108k; salary of BI Developers can be around $78k annually; a position of a BI Analyst is expected to fetch an average of around $79,613; while individuals who earn the designation of being a BI Manager can expect an average income of $116,539.

Aspiring to initiate a career in the field of Business Intelligence? Do check our blogs on:

"Business Intelligence Jobs: A Career to Look Forward to" and "Top 30 Business Intelligence Interview Questions"

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Conclusion

The generation of data is rapidly increasing across industries. It is considered as an asset which has helped organizations increase their revenue and profits. This asset is controlled by Business Intelligence experts and professionals. Their skills are not restricted to a single industry and are in-demand across sectors. Moreover, the field of Business Intelligence in the near future is likely to involve certain new trends. This would include natural language querying capabilities, non-requirement of coding, increased dependence on cloud and data literacy.

So if you are thinking about the question of what is Business Intelligence, remember, that it is one of the most lucrative career opportunities in existing times. You will only be wise to develop capabilities in relation to the demands of this domain.

We, at Syntax Technologies, offer you the opportunity to evolve as a BI expert. Want to master Business Intelligence? Enrol in Syntax Business Intelligence course Now!

Author:
Tatyana Borodina
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