Business Intelligence (BI) is one of those terms that conjure up an air of convert operation. However, the core role of the technology is to facilitate decision-making. Like a good spy, once deployed, it assists its "handler" in making informed decisions. Until recently, applications of business intelligence were limited to large and mid-size enterprises, but the technology is gaining popularity. BI promises the type of information support every business manager or decision-maker could use. This article provides an overview of this potentially powerful business tool.
What is business intelligence?
The simple answer is there is no single universally used definition for BI. Developers may define the technology in ways that favor the features of their own brand of business intelligence software. Regardless of the exact wording of a definition, the following applies across BI brands:
In essence, business intelligence is what your enterprise makes of it - depending on usage and functionalities.
What are the key components of a business intelligence system?
What constitutes a BI system varies by developer. However, most integrated systems have the following tools and functionalities:
What are desirable qualities in a business intelligence system?
Given the relatively high cost of deploying, running, and maintaining a BI system, it is important that the product you select possesses the following qualities:
Today's competitive environment requires enterprises to be agile in all aspects of business operations. Few will debate the benefits of having business intelligence technology as part of the performance management toolkit of an enterprise. Properly deployed, BI tools and functionalities improve the timeliness, objectivity and transparency of business decisions. However, realizing these benefits hinges on how well the chosen product fits the specific needs of the enterprise.