Business Intelligence or BI consists of technical infrastructure that gathers, stores, and analyzes company data. As simple as that. Using a BI tool, managers can analyze data and generate reports and information for better decision making. A variety of software companies provide BI solutions to businesses that wish to utilize their data more effectively.

From a back office IT discipline, Business Intelligence is evolving into something every employee will have to use on a daily basis. Modern advances such as intuitive new interfaces and natural language querying have made these once complex tools available to everyone.

Business Intelligence (BI) refers to the procedural and technical infrastructure that collects, stores, and analyzes the data produced by a company’s activities.

According to this july 2019 blog post by SYSPRO, a californian ERP software manufacturer: Business Intelligence analyzes enterprise data and uses dashboards and other interfaces to present that data in a way that is easily understood and allows action to be taken. The term refers to the gathering, storing, and analyzing of business data, and is sometimes referred to as knowledge management. By transforming data into actionable knowledge, it ultimately improves business performance.

Then, for Forrester Research, Inc., a research and advisory company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Business Intelligence is “the transformation of raw data into insightful, tactical, and operational insights that can be used to enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational decision-making“.

There are business people playing chess, team of workers losing, leader is winning, all that representing business intelligence matter, the fact to take decisions based on data and insights

As for a more specific idea of what Business Intelligence is, Investopedia‘s page adds the following list of BI types:

  • Spreadsheets: these are some of the most widely used traditional BI tools, like Microsoft Excel and Google Docs
  • Reporting software: used to report, organize, filter, and present data
  • Data visualization software: used to rapidly gain insights by converting datasets into easy-to-read and visually appealing graphical representations.
  • Data mining tools: process uses algorithms such as AI, machine learning, and statistics to find patterns in large amounts of data.
  • Online analytical processing (OLAP): allow users to analyze data sets from various perspectives depending on the organization’s needs.

And declares that BI is such a core business value that is difficult to find a business area that does not benefit from better information to work with. BI can provide companies with many benefits such as improved data quality, faster, more accurate reporting and analytics, reduced costs, increased revenue, increased employee satisfaction, and the capability to make better business decisions.

It is clear that most experts view Business Intelligence as something magical that provides only benefits for an organization. Total recommendation. Here the Wikipedia’s link that discusses BI and its risk can help you with balancing all that, with also a section about limitations of semi-structured and unstructured data.

There is a cheerful group of happy business people after winning in formal wear gesturing, hug each other, representing business intelligence matter

Now, finally, let’s wrap up this post, it’s been a while, and let’s put what PC Magazine (again) thinks about Business Intelligence, and more specifically about self-service BI, i.e. an approach to analytics that allows users without technical backgrounds to access and explore data, with their top 9 ranking from March 2019. All solutions still exist today, so no worries: