What is Business Intelligence?

In my last sets of posts, I was mentioning the journey of data to a Data Warehouse. It started from an ETL job that can has an ability to extract the Data from different types of sources (Z/OS, SAP or Custom) and on the way getting transformed, cleansed to land into a final source as “Trusted Information”(which by definition means Accurate, Complete, Insightful and Real Time). So why was this effort made after all? An answer that I already provided was that for compliance purpose this much effort is needed and more or less sufficient (at least from IT perspective) to ensure that our records are proper. But beyond that, often such data can be further used to give valuable insights. This is where BI (called as Bee Eye) or Business Intelligence comes into picture.

What is BI?
Business intelligence (BI) is defined as the ability for an organization to take all its capabilities and convert them into knowledge, ultimately, getting the right information to the right people, at the right time to make right decisions. These decisions drive organizations. Making a good decision at a critical moment may lead to a more efficient operation, a more profitable enterprise, or perhaps a more satisfied customer. BI tools and processes working on Trusted data provides a safer way to make decision than making a decision by a “gut feeling”.

Where does BI Apply?

  • BI can be used to segment customers and identify the best ones. We can analyze data to understand customer behaviors, predict their wants and needs, and offer fitting products and promotions. Finally, we can identify the customers at greatest risk of attrition, and intervene to try to keep them.
  • The human resources department can learn which individuals in an organization are high performers and then hire, train, and reward other employees to become similar high performers.
  • Inventory managers can segment their inventory items by cost and velocity, build key facilities in the best locations, and ensure that the right products are available in the right quantities.
  • Production can minimize its costs by setting up activity-based costing programs.

With BI can I make any business decisions accurate?
BI just assists in making a proper decision. But in places, intuition may be required. What if we do not have sufficient time to run our tools and get a report before making a decision? What if we have no precedent data to make decision or that history is misleading?

So does BI munch the trusted data and gives you some gyan (sanskrit word for giving insight)? Not really. There are two additional things that it should do. It should measure the results according to predetermined metric and also feed the lessons from one decision into the next.

These are my tit-bits gathered from reading about BI from various sources. I welcome readers to share their understandings or point to some more interesting read in this upcoming area.


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