What is Business Intelligence?

February 19, 2020

In today’s competitive climate, informed decision making by business intelligence at all levels of the organization is a key component to a business’s success and longevity.

How It Used to Be

In the past, a typical organization detached its IT department from the rest of the business. Because of this siloed approach, business intelligence served the organization through an order-and-delivery approach.

For example, the business would place a request to the IT department for a set of reports. Now the IT department would produce the reports, and then deliver them back to the business. This allowed the business to receive reliable reporting on a scheduled basis.

Typically, the reports were identical, so the business knew exactly how to interpret their data and could make confident decisions. But the rigid, time-delayed order-and-delivery approach has many constraints.

The canned reports only provided a limited view of the business. Few members of the organization had access to their data. Then, businesses began to see the advantage of integrating technology into their workflows instead of isolating it.

In each department and at every level, they wanted customized reports tailored to their specific processes. These were then delivered on an ad-hoc basis, sometimes on-demand. And they wanted to be able to view their data in real-time, or as close to it as possible. With so many requests of so much variety, the IT department became overwhelmed and couldn’t fulfill all the orders.

They didn’t have the subject matter expertise of the business to produce these customized reports in an accurate and meaningful away. When they did, the business wanted to tweak and adjust the reports based on their analysis, which led to more orders.

The lack of proper communication and integration from both sides of the house led to frustration and inefficiency. Out of necessity, new approaches and new technologies were born.

Business Intelligence Today

Now, businesses are turning to fully integrated IT and business solutions that meet the high demands of flexible, sophisticated analysis in a timely fashion. These solutions put the organization’s data at the fingertips of its analysts, senior-level, and management-level employees.

In addition to the traditional canned reports, they can do ad-hoc analysis to create single-use reports for unique situations that might not happen again. And they allow for self-service, which lets those without a technical background to be able to structure and analyze an organization’s data with minimal training. Further, business intelligence solutions are incorporating advanced analytics onto their platform.

The Cutting Edge

The next evolution of business intelligence is called augmented business intelligence, and it has arrived. These solutions are utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate the business intelligence flow and perform advanced analysis on the data to find deep insights. Microsoft’s Power BI is on the cutting edge of this new technology.

It’s is a suite of business intelligence tools and services that helps businesses make fast, data-driven informed decisions. For businesses that are seeking to gain a competitive advantage, Power BI may be one solution to help guide them to future success. We’ll examine Power BI in our next installment.

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