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What is Business Intelligence: A Comprehensive Guide

Last updated on Sep 21,2023 844 Views

In today’s fast-paced business world, data is essential to gain a competitive edge. However, with such a vast amount of information available, it can be challenging to extract valuable insights and make sense of it all. This is where business intelligence (BI) comes into play. BI can help organizations turn raw data into meaningful insights, enabling better decision-making, optimizing operations, enhancing customer experiences, and providing a strategic advantage.

In this blog post on “What is Business Intelligence”, we’ll cover everything you need to know about BI, starting with

What is business intelligence?

Business intelligence, also known as BI, is the process of analyzing and interpreting data in order to gain insights and make wise decisions in a business setting. BI is the process of gathering, processing, and analyzing data from a variety of sources, including customer interactions, sales figures, and financial data. The purpose of BI is to give decision-makers timely access to accurate information that can be used to spot trends, opportunities, and potential issues. This may involve developing unique dashboards, reports, and visualizations to assist organizations in tracking important performance indicators and enhancing operational effectiveness. Business intelligence (BI) can be used in a variety of departments, including sales, marketing, finance, and operations, and it can offer insightful data to organizations of all sizes and types.


Let me give you a small example

Imagine you run a pizza shop, and you want to increase your profits. You decide to track your sales data to see what’s working and what’s not. You notice that your best-selling pizza is pepperoni, but you’re not selling many drinks.
With business intelligence (BI), you could use this data to make informed decisions. For example, you might decide to promote pepperoni pizza even more and create a combo deal that includes a drink to boost sales. You might also experiment with different drink options to see which ones are most popular.
Without BI, you might not have noticed these trends, and you might continue to sell less popular items or miss opportunities to boost sales. With BI, you can use your data to make smart decisions and improve your business – all while enjoying a delicious slice of pizza!

How BI Processes Data?

what is business inteligence

Business Intelligence (BI) is a process of gathering, analyzing, and visualizing data to support decision-making within a business. BI works by collecting data from various sources, such as databases, spreadsheets, and software applications, and transforming it into meaningful insights through a series of steps. Here’s a simplified overview of how BI works:

Data gathering: The first step is to collect data from different sources and consolidate it into a central location. This can be done through automated tools, manual entry, or data integration software.
Data processing: Once the data is collected, it is processed to prepare it for analysis. This may involve cleaning the data, formatting it, and structuring it in a way that is useful for analysis.
Data analysis: The next step is to analyze the data to identify trends, patterns, and insights. This can be done using various analytical techniques such as statistical analysis, data mining, and machine learning.
Data visualization: Once the data is analyzed, it is presented in a visual format, such as graphs, charts, and dashboards. This helps decision-makers to quickly and easily interpret the data and identify key insights.
Decision-making: The final step is to use the insights gained from the data analysis to make informed decisions that can impact the business positively.

The Benefits of Business Intelligence

There are several benefits of using business intelligence (BI) tools in an organization. Here are some of the key benefits:
Improved decision-making: BI helps users analyze data quickly and easily, allowing them to make informed decisions in a timely manner.
Increased efficiency: BI tools automate data collection and analysis, reducing the amount of time and effort required to generate reports and insights.
Better collaboration: BI tools can be used to share insights and collaborate with others, helping teams work together more effectively.
Increased revenue: By providing insights into customer behavior and market trends, BI tools can help businesses identify new opportunities and improve revenue generation.
Reduced costs: BI tools can identify areas where costs can be reduced, such as supply chain management or marketing campaigns.

Real-World Applications of Business Intelligence

Some of the well-known examples of BI include:
Amazon: The online retail giant uses BI to track customer behavior and preferences to recommend products to them based on their purchase history and other data points. They also use BI to optimize their supply chain and inventory management, ensuring they have the right products in stock at the right time.
Netflix: The streaming service uses BI to analyze viewer data to create personalized recommendations for each user, improving customer retention and engagement. They also use BI to optimize their content acquisition and production strategies, ensuring they are producing the most popular shows and movies.
Starbucks: The coffee chain uses BI to analyze sales and customer data to make decisions on store locations, menu offerings, and promotions. They also use BI to optimize their supply chain and inventory management, ensuring they have the right products and ingredients available at each store.
Domino’s Pizza: The pizza chain uses BI to analyze order data to predict demand and optimize their delivery routes, reducing delivery times and improving customer satisfaction. They also use BI to track customer feedback and reviews, ensuring they are addressing any issues quickly and effectively.

The Blueprint for a Successful BI Strategy

business inteligence

A successful business intelligence (BI) strategy can help your organization make data-driven decisions and gain a competitive advantage. Here is a blueprint for creating a successful BI strategy:
Identify business goals and objectives: Before you can create a BI strategy, you need to identify your organization’s business goals and objectives. This will help you determine what data you need to collect, analyze and report on.
Evaluate data sources: Evaluate the data sources available to you, including internal data from your organization’s systems and external data from sources like market research or social media. Determine which data sources are most relevant to your business goals.
Define KPIs: Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you measure progress towards your business goals. KPIs should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Choose the right BI tools: Select the right BI tools that can handle the types of data you need to analyze and can provide insights that are relevant to your business. Consider factors such as ease of use, scalability, and the ability to integrate with your existing systems.
Design data models and dashboards: Create data models and dashboards that provide a clear view of your organization’s data and KPIs. Use visualizations to make the data more accessible and actionable.
Implement and test: Implement your BI strategy and test it thoroughly to ensure that it is providing the insights you need to make informed decisions.
Continuously improve: Continuously monitor and improve your BI strategy by reviewing KPIs, updating data models and dashboards, and adjusting your strategy as needed.
By following this blueprint, you can create a successful BI strategy that can help your organization achieve its business goals and gain a competitive advantage.

Categorizing BI Analysis

what is business inteligence

There are generally three categories of BI analysis:
Descriptive Analysis: This type of analysis involves looking at historical data and using it to gain insights into what has happened in the past. Descriptive analysis is often used to track key performance indicators (KPIs) and provide a snapshot of the current state of the business.
Predictive Analysis: This type of analysis involves using historical data to make predictions about what is likely to happen in the future. Predictive analysis is often used to identify trends, forecast future performance, and anticipate changes in the market.
Prescriptive Analysis: This type of analysis involves using both descriptive and predictive analysis to provide recommendations on what actions should be taken in the future. Prescriptive analysis is often used to help businesses optimize their operations, improve efficiency, and make better decisions.

Advantages and disadvantages of BI

some of the key advantages and disadvantages of using business intelligence (BI):

Advantages of BIDisadvantages of BI
Allows for more informed decision making based on data insightsImplementation and maintenance costs can be high
Helps identify trends and patterns in data that may not be visible otherwiseRequires a significant investment in time and resources to collect, store, and analyze data
Provides a more comprehensive view of business operations and performanceCan be complex and difficult to use for non-technical users
Can increase operational efficiency and productivity by automating data analysisMay raise concerns about data privacy and security
Improves the accuracy and timeliness of reporting and forecastingResults are only as good as the quality of the data being analyzed
Facilitates collaboration across departments and teamsCan lead to overreliance on data, which may not capture the full complexity of certain situations
Helps companies stay competitive by enabling them to adapt to changing market conditions and customer preferencesMay be subject to bias and misinterpretation if not used correctly

It’s important to note that the advantages and disadvantages of BI can vary depending on the specific use case, industry, and organizational structure. Companies should carefully consider their needs and goals before investing in a BI solution.

A Comparison of Top BI Platforms

Here is a comparison table of popular BI platforms:

BI PlatformVendorDeploymentData SourcesPrice
Microsoft Power BIMicrosoftCloud & On-premisesWide range of sources including Excel, CSV, SharePoint, SQL Server, Oracle, Salesforce, Google AnalyticsFree and paid plans available
TableauSalesforceCloud & On-premisesWide range of sources including Excel, CSV, SQL Server, Oracle, Salesforce, Google AnalyticsFree trial available, paid plans based on number of users
QlikViewQlikOn-premisesWide range of sources including Excel, CSV, SQL Server, Oracle, Salesforce, Google AnalyticsPaid plans based on number of users
SAP BusinessObjectsSAPOn-premisesWide range of sources including Excel, CSV, SQL Server, Oracle, Salesforce, Google AnalyticsPaid plans based on number of users
IBM Cognos AnalyticsIBMCloud & On-premisesWide range of sources including Excel, CSV, SQL Server, Oracle, Salesforce, Google AnalyticsPaid plans based on number of users
Oracle BIOracleCloud & On-premisesWide range of sources including Excel, CSV, SQL Server, Oracle, Salesforce, Google AnalyticsPaid plans based on number of users
DomoDomoCloudWide range of sources including Excel, CSV, SQL Server, Oracle, Salesforce, Google AnalyticsPaid plans based on number of users

What does the Future Hold for BI?

The future role of Business Intelligence (BI) is expected to evolve as technology and data continue to advance. Here are some potential areas where BI could play a significant role in the future:
Predictive Analytics: BI can help predict future trends and events based on historical data. In the future, BI tools will likely become more sophisticated and use machine learning and artificial intelligence to make more accurate predictions.
Real-Time Analytics: With the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), BI tools will need to be able to process and analyze real-time data from a variety of sources, including sensors, mobile devices, and social media.
Natural Language Processing: BI tools will become more user-friendly by allowing users to ask questions in natural language and receive real-time answers.
Embedded Analytics: BI tools will become more integrated with other applications, allowing users to access and analyze data without having to switch between different programs.
Cloud-Based BI: Cloud-based BI platforms will continue to grow in popularity, making it easier for organizations to scale and manage their data.

How Does Self-Service BI Empowers Users?

Self-service BI (Business Intelligence) empowers users by giving them the ability to access, analyze, and report on data without having to rely on IT professionals or data analysts. Here are some ways that self-service BI empowers users:
Faster access to insights: With self-service BI, users can access data and insights in real-time, without having to wait for reports or requests to be fulfilled by IT professionals.
Greater flexibility and agility: Users can create their own reports and dashboards, and can quickly modify or customize them as needed, without having to rely on IT for changes.
Better decision-making: By giving users access to data in a user-friendly and intuitive way, self-service BI enables users to make better, data-driven decisions.
Reduced reliance on IT: Self-service BI allows users to perform data analysis and reporting tasks on their own, which can reduce the burden on IT professionals and data analysts.
Increased productivity: With self-service BI, users can quickly access and analyze data, which can increase productivity and efficiency.



In conclusion, business intelligence is a critical tool for organizations looking to gain insights and make data-driven decisions. With the right BI strategy and tools, organizations can turn data into a strategic advantage, improving efficiency, enhancing the customer experience, and gaining a competitive edge in the marketplace.  If you’re wondering what does it actually take to become a BI Developer? Well, you can check out the Power BI Course Syllabus curated by Industry Experts before going ahead with the blog.

So this was all about the What is business intelligence. This blog will be updated regularly to accommodate trends and current changes. If you have any other ideas or doubts about this topic, please leave a comment below.

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What is Business Intelligence: A Comprehensive Guide