|Solutions > Business Intelligence|
Business Intelligence (BI)
OverviewBusiness intelligence (BI) refers to skills, processes, technologies, applications and practices used to support decision making. BI technologies provide historical, current, and predictive views of business operations. Common functions of Business Intelligence technologies are reporting, OLAP (Online analytical processing), analytics, data mining, text mining, predictive analytics, business performance management and benchmarking.
BI is the number one investment priority among CIOs. Business intelligence connects people with information in an easy-to-use way so they can make better decisions. With BI solutions you can:
OLAP is an approach to quickly answer multi-dimensional analytical queries. Databases configured for OLAP use a multidimensional data model, allowing for complex analytical and ad-hoc queries with a rapid execution time. They borrow aspects of navigational databases and hierarchical databases that are faster than relational databases. The output of an OLAP query is typically displayed in a matrix (or pivot) format. The dimensions form the rows and columns of the matrix; the measures form the values.
The typical applications of OLAP are in business analytics and reporting for:
Predictive analytics encompasses a variety of techniques from statistics, data mining and game theory that analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future events. In business, predictive models exploit patterns found in historical and transactional data to identify risks and opportunities. Models capture relationships among many factors to allow assessment of risk or potential associated with a particular set of conditions, guiding decision making for candidate transactions.
The following are areas that predictive analytics has shown positive impact in recent years:
Business ChallengesOrganizations worldwide demonstrate that BI improves the decision making process and directly improves the bottom line. These organizations also show that the value of business intelligence increases as more decision makers access complete, consistent, and trustworthy information. And yet, these same smart companies often find business intelligence adoption lagging among business users.
Business intelligence epitomizes the classic struggle between IT and business. Business users will not embrace business intelligence until they can get it on their own terms. They protest that they can't wait for IT and need direct access to information. They say they need to see things their own way. They may say BI is too hard too use and they prefer a different interface.
Still, IT has its own important job to do. IT delivers the platform that secures information, integrates data sources, provides a foundation that masks the complexity of heterogeneous data sources and provides complete, consistent access to information throughout the enterprise. Only IT can ensure the security, availability and reliability of business intelligence.
Bridging this gap between business and IT is what enables successful companies to realize the full promise of business intelligence. Business users need simpler user interfaces that enable them to engage in the business and find answers to their own business questions. IT needs the simplicity of a business intelligence solution that fits with key infrastructure and architecture and enables them to cost effectively scale. They also need to know that the platform aligns with strategic plans for enterprise architecture.
Limits of Traditional BIBI tools are widely used to complement enterprise applications. Application specific BI tools do a great job of surfacing after-the-fact data captured in, say, an ERP or SCM application. Transactional data is stored and aggregated in a repository, such as an operational data store, for reporting, analysis and visualization. Application BI comes preconfigured to support the data schemas, application programming interfaces (APIs), security mechanisms and business logic of the particular transactional system. This approach speeds the extraction of information and helps maintain the integrity of source applications. Unfortunately, it also limits the scope of BI in decision making.
Another example of unnecessarily limited BI utilization occurs when data from multiple applications is homogenized in a data warehouse. In this situation, reporting and analytics provide enterprise-wide visibility, but the data loses business applicability – that is, the ability to facilitate collaboration and support decision-making in the context of a specific business process. An example of this is the different ways customer data appears within a data warehouse and outside of it. Data homogenized from sales force automation software (sales opportunity data) and a separate order management system (customer order data) provides good insight into customer buying trends and fits well in the structure of a data warehouse. However, it is missing the granular customer contact data required for the business process of escalation.
Traditional BI also has a latency problem: The information is not available quickly enough to support individuals making immediate decisions. Often the stored data is out of date for operational response; for example, a bank today needs to complete loan approvals in hours, not days. Hourly and nearreal-time information is important for operational responsiveness to such competitive pressures. Also, traditional BI information is not delivered in the context of a business process, but rather at the individual, entity or activity level. Information should be in the context of causal activities preceding a situation and consequential activities following it. The latency and context issues compound another problem: BI information is not always actionable. Individuals receiving analytic information also need options for possible next steps. For example, call center managers must be given information that is timely (such as that call volumes are in excess now), and notification must be in a form that supports an active response (telling where to route those alls).
The future of BIA 2009 Gartner paper predicted these developments in business intelligence market:
Top trends in BI for 2009IDC estimated, most analysts see business intelligence (BI) as a relative bright spot in the IT spending forecast, with a projected growth rate of between 2% and 10% in 2009 (vs. the 9–12% projected in early 2008).
Decision factors of BI implementationAs Per Dr. Saadia Asif (2009), following are the factors that affect the decision making process of an BI implementation:
Critical Success Factors of BI implementationAlthough there could be many factors that could affect the implementation process of a BI system, a research by Naveen shows, the following are the critical success factors for an business intelligence implementation:
How to choose BI solutions?For a single business intelligence solution to fulfill the full promise of BI, it must access all pertinent performance data, regardless of platform, and deliver the resulting information and analysis to all appropriate users, regardless of location. It can access virtually any corporate data source. And it provides detailed, understandable views of that data for all users, from executives to analysts to casual BI users, with innovative tools that allow them to access the information from mobile devices (like iPhone) while on the road.
The full promise of BI means that neither IT nor business users feel limited by their BI systems. Business users need to see relevant information about their business in ways that are the most meaningful to them and the easiest to understand. They need to see the big picture and, when necessary, the detail. They do not want to drown in irrelevant information.
At the same time, IT's ability to control costs and deliver value should not be undermined by maintaining multiple BI systems. IT does not want BI that only covers some of the data. And they need software that has room to grow to meet tomorrow's demands.
Best BI software:
How our BI solutions can help?Our BI solutions meet the needs of business and IT, and address the demands of business for usability, accessibility and control. Our BI solutions open windows into all your corporate systems and data. BI system managers, professional authors, business and financial analysts, line of business managers, executives, and casual BI users can all find value through these multiple windows. We can deliver the best available value to all users with one business intelligence platform - making it simpler, faster and easier to manage.
This agility enables BI to cost effectively scale with: