Business intelligence(BI) can be described as “a set of techniques and tools for the acquisition and transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes”. The term “data surfacing” is also more often associated with BI functionality. BI technologies are capable of handling large amounts of structured and sometimes unstructured data to help identify, develop and otherwise create new strategic business opportunities. The goal of BI is to allow for the easy interpretation of these large volumes of data. Identifying new opportunities and implementing an effective strategy based on insights can provide businesses with a competitive market advantage and long-term stability.BI technologies provide historical, current and predictive views of business operations. Common functions of business intelligence technologies are reporting, online analytical processing, analytics, data mining, process mining, complex event processing, business performance management, benchmarking, text mining, predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics.
Business intelligence is made up of an increasing number of components including
*Multidimensional aggregation and allocation
*De-normalization, tagging and standardization
*Real time reporting with analytical alert
*A method of interfacing with unstructured data sources
*Group consolidation, budgeting and rolling forecasts
*Statistical inference and probabilistic simulation
*Key performance indicators optimization
*Version control and process management
*Open item management.
Often BI applications use data gathered from a data warehouse(DW) or from a data mart, and the concepts of BI and DW sometimes combine as “BI/DW” or as “BIDW”. A data warehouse contains a copy of analytical data that facilitates decision support. To distinguish between the concepts of business intelligence and data warehouses, Forrester Research defines business intelligence in one of two ways:
1.Using a broad definition “Business Intelligence is a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information used to enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational insights and decision-making.”Under this definition, business intelligence also includes technologies such as data integration, data quality, data warehousing, master-data management, text- and content-analytics, and many others that the market sometimes lumps in to the “Information Management” segment. Therefore, Forrester refers to data preparation and data usage as two separate but closely linked segments of the business-intelligence architectural stack.
2.Forrester defines the narrower business-intelligence market as, referring to just the top layers of the BI architectural stack such as reporting, analytics and dash boards.
Comparison with competitive intelligence:
BI uses technologies, processes, and applications to analyze mostly internal, structured data and business processes while competitive intelligence gathers, analyzes and disseminates information with a topical focus on company competitors. If understood broadly, business intelligence can include the subset of competitive intelligence.
Business Intelligence Trends:
Currently organizations are starting to see that data and content should not be considered separate aspects of information management, but instead should be managed in an integrated enterprise approach. Enterprise information management brings Business Intelligence and Enterprise Content Management together. Currently organizations are moving towards Operational Business Intelligence which is currently under served and uncontested by vendors. Traditionally, Business Intelligence vendors are targeting only top the pyramid but now there is a paradigm shift moving toward taking Business Intelligence to the bottom of the pyramid with a focus of self-service business intelligence.
Because of the close relationship with senior management, another critical thing that must be assessed before the project begins is whether or not there is a business need and whether there is a clear business benefit by doing the implementation. Another reason for a business-driven approach to implementation of BI is the acquisition of other organizations that enlarge the original organization it can sometimes be beneficial to implement DW or BI in order to create more oversight.
A Business Intelligence portal(BI portal) is the primary access interface for Data Warehouse(DW) and Business Intelligence (BI) applications. The BI portal is the user’s first impression of the DW/BI system. It is typically a browser application, from which the user has access to all the individual services of the DW/BI system, reports and other analytical functionality. The following is a list of desirable features for web portals in general and BI portals in particular: Usable User should easily find what they need in the BI tool. Content Rich The portal is not just a report printing tool, it should contain more functionality such as advice, help, support information and documentation. The portal should be implemented in a way that makes it easy for the user to use its functionality and encourage them to use the portal. Scalability and customization give the user the means to fit the portal to each user.