What is Business Intelligence
Business intelligence is a technology-driven process for analyzing data sets and present analytical findings in reports, summaries, dashboards, graphs, charts and maps that helps executives, managers and users to make informed business decisions. It leverages software and services to transform data into actionable insights that inform an organization’s business decisions.
Business intelligence also provides the following benefits;
- Customer Satisfaction
- Better Return on Investment (ROI)
- Risk Management
- Increases Efficiency
- Gaining Competitive Edge
History of Business Intelligence Software
Business Intelligence (BI) software helps to analyze business data and throws insights on a company’s strengths and weaknesses. The insights can be used to make smart business decisions to fuel the company’s growth. Here we will understand an interesting chronological journey through the history of BI software from 1865, when the term was coined to the sophisticated tools of today.
1865 – The term BI is coined
Richard Miller Devens coined the term “business intelligence” in his book “Cyclopaedia of Commercial and Business Anecdotes”. He used the term to describe how a banker used information, to educate business decisions to get ahead of his competitors.
1958 – Basics of BI laid out by IBM
A writer by the name of Hans Peter Luhn wrote an article named “A Business Intelligence System” for an IBM journal. The article explains the basics of BI system in an easy to understand terms.
1960 – The Advent of Computer Data
With increasing use of computers, companies start piling up huge amounts of data. But there is still no software system to extract insights from the data.
1970 – Big Players enter the Market
IBM and Siebel enter the modern BI market as they recognize the growing need for fast and accurate analysis of data.
1970 to 1990 – Streamlining BI Analysis
Data storage systems and technologies led to the creation of database management systems. In 1988, an international conference named the Multiway Data Analysis consortium was held in Rome to streamline data processes and simplify BI analysis.
1990 to 2000 – The First Wave of BI Apps
New vendors enter the market as the BI industry starts to boom. Most of the work is done by IT teams that have to spend endless hours to create and deliver reports.
2001 –The Second Wave of BI Apps
The advent of web based software means that IT staff could focus on their main work as even lay users are able to extract useful information independently. Web based BI tools offer self service efficiencies, better data visualization, improved customization and real time data feeds.
2006 – Cloud and Mobile BI
Vendors offer cloud BI systems which provide the advantages of reduced storage costs and faster, easier access to business data insights. Mobile empowered solutions are also becoming popular as they allow users to work on BI apps on their Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
2007 – Emergence of Big Data
Big Data refers to the large volume of structured and unstructured data that inundates a business every day. Companies are looking to invest in advanced BI apps that can analyze Big Data for insights that lead to better informed business decisions and strategies.
2010 – In Chip Technology becomes Popular
As 64-bit PCs, became more popular so do in-chip BI solutions. Sisense, one of the leading BI software, pioneers a technology of fast and scalable in-chip databases.
2016 –The Sophisticated BI tools of Today
The BI market has touched the $90 billion mark. Today’s BI apps offer a single system that caters to the different units of a company. Sales can use it to identify problem account, marketing can use it to personalize their messages, finance can forecast for the next year and senior managers can carry out business health checks.
Business Intelligence Dashboard Best Practices
A BI dashboard that can access or fetch data from multiple data sources or databases is of immense use for businesses. Dashboards are hosted software applications that automatically extract available data into the charts and graphs that give a sense of the immediate state of the company. The dashboard effortlessly fetches data from Excel database, Tally database, and so on because of its easy integration with various third-party applications used by businesses.
Here are some of the BI Dashboards’ best practices that are followed by all BI software companies.
- Your dashboard should answer business questions
- Choose the right metrics to display
- Build it interactive
- Easy web based access
- Make the complex simple
- Don’t forget alerts
- Include data context
- Create it visual
- Choose the type of dashboard
- Automate the data collection
Read More: Reasons why Companies use Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Worst Practices in Business Intelligence
Businesses suffer from innumerable challenges such as tool selection, poor management decisions. This is a prime cause of a BI project failure.
- Business unable to operationalize the BI insights
- Ignoring important data sources
- Undervalue and ignore the data preparation
- Organization culture
- Bureaucratic processes and organizational structures
- Considering BI projects as complex (poor perception)
- Inaccurate estimates
- Consultants unable to understand the BI scope
- Underestimating the user training
- BI strategy is implemented without first instituting process design
- Overusing BI self service for all your needs
- Using tactical BI tools to support broad BI strategies
- BI emphasis is off base
- Difficulty and complexity off the data migration and conversion is necessary to implement BI system
- Time consuming BI development
Skills needed for BI
As a BI analyst, you need to possess the following skills.
- Business Acumen
- Information Analytics & Modeling
- BI Specific Software & Analytics Program
- BI Methodology & BI Journey
- Information Analytics
- Industry Knowledge
- Critical Thinking
Insights about BI
Business intelligence is the presentation of business data through reports and dashboards that reveal key statistics about an organization. Reporting is a central facet of business intelligence and the dashboard is perhaps the archetypical BI tool. BI and analytics work hand-in-hand, because analytics turns data into insights that guide intelligent business decisions.
Departments driving BI adoption
- Executive Management
Most Popular BI Initiatives
- Data Integration
- Advanced Visualizations
- End User Self Service
Strategies to Accelerate BI Adoption
- Ensure Mobile Functionality
- Support for Big Data
- Encourage Peer-to-Peer Learning
- Educate new users
- Support Existing Users
Business Intelligence software and systems
Here are some of the popular BI systems and features;
- Data mining
- ETL (extract-transfer-load —tools that import data from one data store into another)
- OLAP (online analytical processing)
Some of the popular BI software
Future of Business Intelligence Software
Elements such as data visualization, predictive analysis of the future, Big Data and the cloud will add to existing BI capabilities. Companies will not replace their data warehouses; they will add new apps to gain faster and deeper insights. This means enterprises should be ready to make changes to their technical and business process, and add new initiatives and skills.