Business Intelligence is often defined as the array of processes and technologies that turn information into insight and action, meaning the effective application of the broad suite of data analysis tools and analytical approaches to effectively understand, predict, optimize, and prepare to take action upon current and future business activity.
BI applications find their way into a vast range of business areas including customer relationship management, external market assessment, supply chain analysis, human resources, enterprise resource planning, financial management, research and development, and more. They employ technologies such as: data mining, text mining, geographic information systems, language translation, statistical analysis, predictive modeling, simulation, and advanced visualization.
Business Intelligence software allows companies to access their databases and deliver insights to employees, managers and business partners. The insights provided by BI then turn into actions as companies use BI applications to find new opportunities, reduce costs, reallocate resources and improve operational efficiency.
BI applications allow business persons to make informed decisions by providing timely, relevant and accurate answers to business questions. They do so with the help of analytical insights ranging from intuitive, graphical dashboards to highly formatted operational reports.
Improving business performance often starts with setting priorities, by answering questions such as: Which business areas need the most attention? In which areas can results be enhanced with reasonable resources and effort?
Through the use of BI Applications, organizations gain improved insight and make more rational resource prioritization decisions each day. By monitoring business results and fine-tuning business actions, organizations create a system and culture of continuous performance improvement.
Intelligence in Business today is applied to 3 distinct and interrelated business needs:
Monitoring the business
Monitoring BI applications constantly track business metrics to inform and alert the persons responsible about ongoing business activity and the decisions that might be required based on them.
Reporting on the business
Reporting BI applications deliver detailed data on current and historical operational performance so managers can see what is happening across the enterprise, and how well the business is operating.
Analyze the business
Analysis BI applications present views of the business from many different angles so that managers can uncover the causes of performance problems, uncover opportunities that the business should exploit, or predict business results.