BI, business intelligence & Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence, or Business Intelligence, has become a term that is often found on sites and books dealing with IT and technological news. But, what does it really mean? To what extent does it provide solutions to organizations? Get answers to these two questions in the following lines.

Business intelligence: definition

Business intelligence refers to processes based on the collection and analysis of data intended to deliver actionable information to decision-makers. It thus makes it possible to translate aggregates of data into signals that help in decision-making.

Business intelligence is not just about software tools, it also includes the practices and methodologies used to collect data from the organization’s IT system or other sources. It is also a question of sorting, organizing, analyzing and sorting this data in order to obtain various supports faithfully presenting the situation.

Thus, business intelligence informs the manager about an event. In practice, it is used for monitoring and reporting in the form of dashboards or reports. Thanks to this, managers will be able to manage company activities in real time.

What are the objectives of BI?

BI aims above all to simplify the management of an organization by accelerating and qualitatively improving decision-making. This approach provides the means to improve the process and resolves operational problems that a work unit may encounter. In this sense, business intelligence is a real lever for gaining collective efficiency.

Within large groups, BI guides the entire business strategy. It reveals the flaws in the structure through different indicators. A drop in productivity, a lack of investment or even too much turnover thus appears as an obstacle to overcome to rise to the top. It is then up to the manager to establish a coherent action plan to exploit the full potential of a company.

Still, data archiving gives a whole new dimension to business intelligence. By compiling information collected over several years, it becomes possible to build predictive models. Thus, the manager will be able, for example, to anticipate the rise in the price of raw materials or other events linked to the seasonality of activities. With a powerful tool in hand, establishing forecasts on all aspects of an activity will be child’s play.

Given all its advantages, BI tools are becoming more popular and are now within the reach of all managers. The appearance of business software and self-service tools has popularized the use of BI software in the business world.

Business intelligence: a constellation of applications

In recent years, publishers have found endless applications for BI. Whether for operational management, analytical processing or even data management, we can now easily find suitable tools.

As you might expect, this technology also encompasses data visualization (DataViz). To this end, a growing number of tools have been designed to edit graphs making data easier to read. Some allow users to create their own dashboard in order to subsequently simplify the use of the tool. In this scenario, the principal concerned will choose the key indicators themselves according to the tasks to be monitored.

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However, these applications are most often offered separately from the publisher’s flagship software suite. Once integrated into the computer system, however, they will be interoperable with other tools provided by the same publisher. Enough to allow users to analyze the data more precisely to, for example, monitor current orders in real time in order to notify those responsible as soon as an incident occurs.

Note, however, that advanced analysis most often requires the know-how of a data scientist, a statistician or a developer with specific skills. Indeed, only these experts are able to implement a model that avoids obtaining biased results that could encourage managers to make the wrong decisions. In this sense, the publisher will only provide the software resources.

BI tools: how to design one?

Data is most often stored in compartmentalized warehouses to facilitate processing. Each of these containers corresponds to an aspect of the activity. The architecture then relies on the Hadoop system for sorting and processing unstructured data. This will be the case for the real-time analysis of logs, information transmitted by sensors or other Big Data applications.

Even before any processing takes place, the data must migrate to dedicated storage space to be sorted, classified and cleaned. With this in mind, the architecture also includes integration modules ensuring that no undesirable element biases the results.

To create such tools, companies must draw on multiple bodies of data. In addition to BI developers, you will also need to hire the services of an analyst and data administration experts. End users must in principle participate in the project in order to obtain a tool that perfectly meets their expectations.

In this environment, publishers are gradually abandoning waterfall development to turn to Agile methods. In this sense, the tool will be designed in several stages and will gain new features through feedback. This approach saves enormous time for the developer and will avoid having to revisit the project after its deployment.

However, BI tools are intended to evolve over the years. To this end, it will be necessary to consider implementing new modules to manage new inputs and resolve emerging problems. Here again, the agile method will be used.

Origin of the term “Business Intelligence”

Think again ! The term “Business Intelligence” is not new. Its origin dates back to the 1860s when a few personalities used it from time to time. It was not until 1929 that a consultant named Howard Dresner proposed using it to designate data analysis methods.

Recent BI tools still rely on analytical models discovered in the 1930s. In this sense, the apple ultimately did not fall far from the tree. Until today, we find unexpected systems from Exectivue Information Systems.