Definition of Business Intelligence

The definition of business intelligence can definitely vary depending on who you talk to about it. Even pricy consultants and researchers like Gartner can have different ideas. We'll examine the concept a little closer.

We can all agree that business intelligence is centered on the data. That’s where a lot of the similarities end, as there’s always arguments about the extent and degree in which BI is involved. Many technology companies and software firms emphasize the computer based and electronic process of data. Other operations focused employees look more at the information flow from start to end and define that as BI. Others are just focused on the visualization of data into an “intelligent format”. I think any of those approaches are a little too narrow-minded. A focus on the reporting only, would leave out the underlying data structure which is critical to good decisions and one of the main benefits. Becoming too process orientated might ignore the technology. A good strategy would incorporate both.

In recent years, many different technologies,concepts, and trends became wrapped up into the BI label. Data mining, business analytics, data warehousing, scorecarding, corporate performance management, dashboards, decision support systems, enterprise reporting, ad-hoc reporting, OLAP, querying, real-time bi, and many other terms can often fall under the business intelligence umbrella. We discuss these concepts in more detail in other areas of the site, but they all involve parts of a data analysis or information management.

Beyond the technology and process, is also the organization. Organizational processes are a prime driver in data driven processes. Lastly, there is a very real human component. BI systems aren’t a put in place and set on autopilot technology. The intelligence part of this involves people, or so you’d hope! Software by itself is not the end-all, be-all solution.

So if we combines all of these aspects into one description, we get the following: Business Intelligence is an end-to-end concept of data collection, transformation, consumption and action, involving software, hardware, operational and organizational processes, and human interaction.

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