Business intelligence (BI) is a business management term, which refers to applications and technologies that are used to gather, provide access to, and analyze data and information about company operations. Business intelligence systems can help companies have a more comprehensive knowledge of the factors affecting their business, such as metrics on sales, production, internal operations, and they can help companies to make better business decisions. Business Intelligence should not be confused with competitive intelligence, which is a separate management concept.
- Enable organizations to make more informed business decisions, and they may give a company a competitive advantage. For example, a company could use business intelligence applications or technologies to extrapolate information from indicators in the external environment and forecast the future trends in their sector. Business intelligence is used to improve the timeliness and quality of information and enable managers to better understand the position of their firm in comparison to its competitors.
- Help companies analyze the following: changing trends in market share, changes in customer behavior and spending patterns, customers' preferences, company capabilities and market conditions. Business intelligence can be used to help analysts and managers determine which adjustments are most likely to affect trends.
- Help companies develop consistent and "data-based" business decisions — producing better results than basing decisions on "guesswork." In addition, business intelligence applications can enhance communication among departments, coordinate activities, and enable companies to respond more quickly to changes (e.g., in financial conditions, customer preferences, supply chain operations, etc.) because they are usually supported by a data warehouse on which analytical information about these processes resides. When a BI system is well-designed and properly integrated into a company's processes and decision-making process, it may be able to improve a company's performance. Having access to timely and accurate information is an important resource for a company, which can expedite decision-making and improve customers' experience.
- In the competitive customer-service sector, companies need to have accurate, up-to-date information on customer preferences, so that the company can quickly adapt to their changing demands.
- Enables companies to gather information on the trends in the marketplace and come up with innovative products or services in anticipation of customer's changing demands. Business intelligence applications can also help managers to be better informed about actions that a company's competitors are taking. As well, BI can help companies share selected strategic information with business partners. For example, some businesses use BI systems to share information with their suppliers (e.g., inventory levels, performance metrics, and other supply chain data).
BI systems can also be designed to provide managers with information on the state of economic trends or marketplace factors, or to provide managers with in depth knowledge about the internal operations of a business.
- Business Intelligence solves the data integration and access problems that corporations face in the fast-paced, global marketplace. It shortens the decision-making cycle by eliminating the time it takes to assemble disparate data for review. Today's decision-makers exhaust their attention trying to gather, coordinate and rationalize the data they use to make decisions. With Business Intelligence, they have a complete set of trusted data at their fingertips.
- Several years ago, corporations invested huge sums of money upgrading their enterprise applications in anticipation of Y2K. Since then, new opportunities to automate CRM, Procurement, and on-line sales have presented themselves as companies apply eBusiness technologies to extend their networks to partners and suppliers. Since different venders typically develop these systems, the data is not consistent from one system to the next, challenging analysis at the enterprise level. Thus, new systems must include analysis capabilities so business users, from workers to executives, can discern enterprise performance and adjust operations accordingly. A complete business intelligence solution integrates disparate data within an enterprise warehouse architecture, making information available in a consistent and standardized manner.