What is Business Intelligence? While there is no universally accepted definition, Business Intelligence is often defined as the people, process and technology used to turn data into information so businesses can make better decisions. At its core, BI enables data-driven decision making.
Since Business Intelligence is a broad term, its helpful to think of it as being comprised of three distinct pillars: Information Management, Enterprise Reporting & Analytics. Let’s take a look at each of these disciplines independently.
The Three Pillars of BI
Information Management is the collection, storage, consolidation and processing of various organizational data sources. Most people associate Information Management with an organization’s Enterprise Data Warehouse, the central repository of current and historical integrated data used to support Enterprise Reporting and Analytics throughout the enterprise.
Enterprise Reporting is the delivery of information from the Enterprise Data Warehouse to leaders within an organization to enable them to make better decisions, faster. Enterprise Reports, often referred to as Management Reports, Dashboards or Scorecards, typically contain numbers, text, tables and graphs and are often disseminated via a set of regularly updated web pages known as an “Enterprise Reporting Portal”.
Analytics is a broad term itself but can largely be thought of as the people and techniques used to make sense of data before acting on it. This includes the various ways you can analyze data, identify and interpret trends and relate one data point to another. It also includes Data Visualization – the art of making analysis of trends and relationships more intuitive by displaying data in a graphical or pictorial format.
If Business Intelligence is about making decisions, analytics is the discipline leveraged to ask the right questions: Why are certain services or products selling better in particular geographies? What are the characteristics of our most profitable customers? Further still, Advanced Analytics such as Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics enable Organizations to analyse questions about the future.
There’s considerable overlap among Business Intelligence related disciplines such as Information Management, Enterprise Reporting and Analytics making a universally accepted definition elusive. That said, it’s not as important we have unanimous definitions for each of these disciplines as it is Organizations understand the importance and value of implementing effective processes to gather, consolidate and transform organizational data into information that can be used to enable data-driven decision making.