What is Business Intelligence (BI)?

Business Intelligence is a term that refers to a set of software applications and technologies for collecting, managing and analyzing information from different business management systems or databases. As a discipline, Business Intelligence is composed of activities such as: analysis of large volumes of data, online analytical processing, queries and reporting . Companies often had to turn to the IT department to obtain the reports and analysis they wanted. Demands of this nature were constantly increasing, and the need for independence from IT’s support has emerged. To this fact was added the desire for BI systems, to support daily activities and decisions for all employees of the company, not just the managers. In this context, Business Intelligence systems appeared, with two extremely important characteristics: they are self-service and operational.

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Self-Service Business Intelligence: what is it and why is it useful?

This concept has emerged as IT departments found it increasingly difficult to keep up with the complexity and increasing number of analysis requirements expressed by companies . In addition, BI applications and projects are not always understood by business and IT alike. Today, with the help of Self-Service Business Intelligence systems, any decision-maker within the company can create the reports he needs by himself, without the intervention of an IT specialist. With this method, access to information is facilitated and decisions can be made in a much shorter time, based on real data and not on instinct or assumptions.

The concept of Operational BI

If until recently the Business Intelligence systems were used mainly by the top management, in close connection with IT, which dealt with providing the required reports, now the switch to self-service Business Intelligence has been doubled by the emergence of the operational BI systems . These are extremely useful for managers, and they come with novelty features, the fact that they are able to support daily activities of employees through certain functionalities: real-time updated data, secure access to information anytime and anywhere, depending on the role of the employee in the company, analyses and reports that easy to perform, with minimal technical knowledge. An operational BI software allows you to detect trends and problems as soon as they appear , and employees can solve them immediately. In this way the transition to a new organisational culture is realized, which changes the role of the employee from an executive to a decisive one.

What are the benefits of the new generation of Business Intelligence software?

A state-of-the-art Business Intelligence software helps companies do business in a smart way, because:

  • Facilitates the decision-making process , permanently providing accurate, complete and up-to-date data, regardless of the storage environment they come from: ERP system, CRM or any other company resource management system
  • The costs associated with implementing a BI software decrease, given the reduced dependence on IT specialists
  • Increases employee productivity, information can be accessed at any time and presented in an extremely intuitive form
  • It helps grow your business, because it offers access to new perspectives on the activity. Information that previously could have been difficult to access and, additionally, difficult to understand, is now in an interactive form just a few clicks away

Why have BI systems become indispensable?

Business decisions are now much easier to make, because managers can use BI to see how their business will evolve in the future. The Forecast function of the BI system allows them, starting from the data already known, to obtain future estimates of the indicators of interest. With the help of the Business Intelligence system, precisely using the “What-if” type analysis , they can find out what impact the decisions they make on the business could see.

The new context in which any change, regardless of whether it comes from the economic, social, political environment, etc., is strongly felt by most companies, leading to the situation in which decisions can no longer be made based on assumptions. Thus, there is a need to substantiate them with clear evidence, supported by topical information presented in an easily understandable form. Business Intelligence systems meet these conditions and make a significant contribution to avoiding decision bottlenecks that may occur within an organisation.