Printed 2017/06/24 08:20AM

Why you need Business Intelligence


First lets define what Business Intelligence (BI) is.  My favorite definitions:

Forrester Research: “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.”

Gartner: “A broad category of applications and technologies for gathering, storing, analyzing, sharing and providing access to data to help enterprise users make better business decisions.”

Me: “Gathering of data from multiple sources to present it in a way that allows executives to make better business decisions”.

“Get the right data at the right time to make the right decision for the organization”.

“It is the application of knowledge derived from analyzing an organization’s data to effect a more positive outcome”.

“It transforms data into knowledge”.

So why use BI?

Tangible Benefits:

Intangible Benefits:

The bottom line is BI is no longer a luxury afforded by a few large companies.  It is now considered an essential part of the IT portfolio.

Examples of common business questions that BI can answer:

Many companies have a ton of data, but don’t know what to do with it.  They have business analysts who spend days or weeks pulling together data from different sources to create reports, many times in Excel.  These analysts would like clean data that is more accurate and more timely so they can spend more of their time analyzing data instead of building reports.  They often have many of these problems with their current reporting solution:

So decision makers need:

So what is the best solution?  There is no single solution scenario to describe what a BI Solution looks like.  There are however some broad categories of solutions that describe common approaches to BI solutions.  In order of increasing complexity and time investment:

  1. Operational Reporting: Provides improved access to existing data from operational systems.  Usually involves the building of an Operational Data Store (ODS)
  2. Business Process / Activity Management: Provides improved analysis and reporting capabilities for specific business processes or activities.  See BPM and BAM and Business Activity Monitoring and Business Intelligence.  Usually involves a real-time summary of business activities from multiple transactional data sources to operations managers and upper management (“Operational Intelligence”)
  3. Data Mart / Integrated Reporting and Analytics: Provides improved tools and access to business users of an application to enhance its value by improving decision-making.  This is the most common solution.  Usually involves the Kimball methodology when building the data warehouse
  4. Enterprise Data Warehousing / Information Management: Provides comprehensive integration of critical information across the enterprise.  Also breaks down the barriers between applications.  Usually involves the Inmon methodology when building the data warehouse

By understanding all of the solution scenarios, you can decide how to approach building your first BI solution.  Some developers may elect to start small by simply providing improved access to operational data as described in the Operational Reporting scenario.  Other developers may decide to tackle the larger problem of providing comprehensive integrated reporting and analytics capabilities to their application as described in the Data Mart scenario.  Truly adventurous developers may decide to tackle the larger problem of Enterprise Data Warehousing, and attempt to provide their customer with an Enterprise Information Management solution which solves the larger problem of providing an integrated view of enterprise information across application boundaries.

More info:

DBA’s, want to earn the big bucks? Learn BI

Business discovery: the next step in business intelligence?

Importance of Data Management for Business People

Microsoft Business Intelligence at a Glance Poster

Putting BI to Work for Your Organization

Three Mistakes to Avoid in your Business Intelligence Project

Why Corporate BI and Self-Service BI Are Both Necessary

Video Business Intelligence Can Benefit Any Organization

How to Start Microsoft BI

Five Pillars for Creating a Business Intelligence Culture in an Organization

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