Business Intelligence and Analytics

The rising opportunities and competitive advantages associated with Big Data and analysis in different organizations have resulted in a significant interest in Business Intelligence & Analysis among organizations. But what is Business Intelligence?

Successful companies use Business Intelligence to improve decision making, to cut operational costs and identify new business strategies and opportunities. Business Intelligence involves much more than corporate reports.  The term Business Intelligence (BI) refers to the collective technologies, applications and practices used for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of data to provide information to businesses in support of better and accurate decision making which simply mean delivering relevant and reliable information to the right people at the right time with the goal of achieving better decisions faster. Modern technologies can provide historical, current and predictive trends to business operations and strategies. This information is essential for management teams and analysts alike  to be in a position to act decisively and plan for the future.

Business intelligence requires powerful and comprehensive tools and systems that can collect store and process large amount of structured, semi structured and unstructured data.  The growth of the availability of the internet, smart devices and the social network gives rise to the semi structured and unstructured data.  Storage and processing devices for data has also become cheaper for companies and therefore more companies can afford to collect and store more data for reviewing and processing.

Business intelligence gives management teams a collective view and and information about their customers, their competitors, their business partners, their competitive environment and their own internal operations that gives them the ability to make effective, important and often strategic business decisions. Today there are many tools available for processing Big semi structured and unstructured data, these include contemporary tools such as Data warehouses, Data marts, Hadoop, In-memory computing and other analytical platforms.  The overall goal of Business Intelligence is to deliver accurate real time information to decision makers to allow them to be proactive and reactive to the internal and external environment.



There are six analytic functionalities that Business Intelligence systems deliver to achieve this objective
  • Production reports:These are predefined reports based on industry specific requirements such as sales forecasts, sales team performances, Campaign effectiveness, cash flow, profitability and so on, depending on the industry.
  • Parameterized reports :Users will enter several parameters as in a pivot table with the aim to filter data and identify the impacts of these parameters on the trends, a good example is a coffee retailer who might enter time of the day as a parameter and a region to identify patterns on when most coffee is sold, the result will help managers to identify necessary marketing and ad campaigns necessary to maximize sales in each region.
  • Dashboards/scorecards :These are visual tools for presenting the performance data defined by users of the system.
  • Ad hoc query/search/report creation: These allow users to create their own reports based on queries and searches that they find relevant for their business sectors.
  • Drill down :This is the ability to move from a high-level summary to a more detailed view of the data being scrutinized.
  • Forecasts, scenarios, models :These include the ability to perform linear
    forecasting, what-if scenario analysis, and analyze data using standard statistical tools
There are two main management strategies for developing Business Intelligence and BA capabilities, and they are:
1.  One stop integrated solution – The Hardware firms sell software that run optimally only on their own hardware.  Therefore this makes the purchasing organization or firm dependent on this single vendor. This usually comes with high switching costs to the buyer resulting in vendor lock in situation.
switching costs. Hardware firms like IBM, HP and Oracle are among the providers for such solutions.
2.  Multiple best-of-breed vendor solution – Because this software can be ran on any machines this strategy allows firms to pick and choose the best BI and BA package from whatever vendor they prefer. This means that they can also use multiple applications to suit various needs of the firm providing greater flexibility and independence for the clients.  However this can present potential difficulties in integration as the client must deal with multiple vendors. Vendors such as SAP, SAS and Microsoft are among those that provide such software.

In todays dynamic business environments, if companies are to survive and thrive they need well informed managers who can make real time decisions. Business intelligence is essential for this to happen. Success in our current digital economy depends largely on an organizations ability to capture and exploit more data in increasingly creative and complex ways. The ability to digitize each customer touch point, insight, and business event means a company can be more agile and responsive than its competitors. Business Intelligence can help organizations increase the value delivered to it’s customers at a significantly lower cost.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar