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What You Need to Know About Business Intelligence

Every business wants to be successful. That success always comes from growth. With most businesses, growth comes from customer retention and gaining new customers. “Business Intelligence” can help a company gain new customers and retain old customers. Business intelligence can be abbreviated BI. A formal definition of business intelligence is that it is a process of collecting information in the area of business. In BI, data collected is enhanced into information and then into knowledge. Business Intelligence can give any business an accurate idea of its customers’ needs. Businesses that have large amounts of information about their customers can act upon that information. Businesses utilizing BI gain knowledge and understanding of a customer’s needs, customer’s decision-making process, and economic, cultural, and technological trends. When using businesses intelligence, businesses select either short term or long goals. BI helps a company reach those goals.

Business Intelligence History

The idea of business intelligence goes back to Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.” Tzu believed that in order to win a war, you must have complete knowledge of your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your the enemy. This is the central idea in present-day business intelligence. Companies must know themselves better than their competitors, and they must know their competitors better. War and business are a lot alike considering that with BI, one must sift through heaps of data (both external and internal) for management to then make strategies for where to take the business and marketing. Warfare involves strategic plans as well. BI is the process of gaining information about every element of your market. Simply understanding the customer is not enough; a business must understand its competitors, and itself.

KPI, Key Performance Indicators

The present state of business is assed by the use of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in business intelligence. As more companies implement KPI, data is becoming available to business faster and more efficiently. Data used to be available for business only after one or two months. This untimely availability did not help business adjust their strategies. More recently, banks have tried to make data available sooner and with shorter intervals. Banks do this especially for businesses that have higher credit/operational risk loading. This allows many companies to get new data weekly, and adjust their strategies faster than ever before, leading to increased customer satisfaction and retention.

BI Tools

When using business intelligence, a company has to collect a vast amount of information. BI tools can help businesses store, organize, and even collect business data. Some data tools are data warehouses, data modeling, and data mining. Using data tools helps to improve the efficiency of business intelligence. While data tools are used for organization, Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) is used in the analyzing process. OLAP is commonly referred to as simple Analytics, which is based on the hypercube or “cube” dimensional analysis.

There are also vendors who help business with business intelligence. A vendor provides a company with the business intelligence tools and support needed for the successful implementation of a business process. Siebel Systems, Microsoft, Altius Consulting, Business-Soft, and SAS Institute are just a few of the companies offering business intelligence tools and support.

Conclusion

The better a business understands its market (everything from the customer to its competitors), the more effective that business can be. Businesses that have as complete, 360-degree understanding of what their customers need and want will be better able to devise successful strategies and implement successful processes to make their business thrive. Business intelligence is the path that businesses can take to achieve their goals, which can be either short-term or long-term. Some may wonder about the ROI of business intelligence. No doubt, if a company ends up gaining many customers, and retaining current customers as a result of business intelligence, then it will be a positive ROI. Business intelligence, if implemented correctly, and efficiently, can only help a company.

E-business Intelligence

Business intelligence means the information that is valued for its currency and relevance. Business intelligence is expert information of a technology or any other field with which to lead and manage a business. Business intelligence, comprehensive knowledge of ones business, one’s customers, business partners, internal operations and the external competition, helps businessmen better their decision, by gathering and analyzing data in broad technologies and applications.

The same thing applied in electronic business is E-business intelligence. It is a broad and deep knowledge of a particular E-business which helps conduct an e-business in an effective manner. In the specialized field of business intelligence, competitive intelligence, one studies the moves of the competitors and makes decisions accordingly.

Electronic business intelligence will help one’s organization’s electronic business to be in progress. The business man needs to take well informed decisions, which are the sources of competitive benefits, and make forecasts about the conditions one’s business would face.

The electronic business intelligence helps one know the position of one’s business comparing to the competitors. It helps the online customers and their needs according to which one can modify the business. The electronic market, its demography and new customers, future strategies of the company could be can understand with the business intelligence.

Electronic business intelligence helps an organization eliminate guesswork, strengthen coordination among departments and to make immediate response to the changes in business and competitions. This helps the company improve its performance.

Electronic business intelligence should concentrate on the following to make the business move smoothly making high profit. It should understand the changing trends of customer needs and preferences and plan to provide products and services innovatively. It should understand the new customers that are visiting the websites. It should also study what the competitors are making and try to excel them with better moves. The business intelligence should understand the need of presenting an attractive website, which keeps the viewers, read it. Electronic business intelligence provides deep understanding of the internal working of the organization also.

Application software and some technologies are used by the people who work in business intelligence in order to make the data gathering, stored and analyzing to be presented in a usable way. In some businesses, for creating business intelligence data warehouses are used.

There are many tools developed to gather and analyze data by those who work in business intelligence. They are Associative Query Logic, Business Performance Management and measurement, Business Planning, Data Farming, and Data warehouses, Customer Relationship Management and Marketing, Data mining, Decision Support Systems and Forecasting, Document warehouses and Executive Information Systems, Human Resources, Knowledge Management Mapping, Management and Geographic Information Systems, Online Analytical Processing and multidimensional analysis, Statistics and Technical Data Analysis, Business Process Re-engineering Competitive Analysis, Supply Chain Management, Systems intelligence, Information visualization and Dash boarding, Document Management, Enterprise Management systems, trend Analysis, User/End-user Query and Reporting and Text mining.

These applications have minimized and eased the works of the business intelligence, but they have heightened the workability and the profitability of the business to a great extent. The professionals, who have been working as consultant or employees are intelligent group of people. KoreOne takes care and keep informing the professional about the needs from companies. Employers have been provided the same people from KoreOne.

Beginners’ Guide to Business Intelligence Tools

What is Business Intelligence and what is the utility of BI Tools?

Business Intelligence (BI) is defined as any real-time, current or past information that helps various business professionals including managers analyze current/past activities to help in predicting future course of the company’s business. Business Intelligence is thus a stream of data and hence it requires sorting as well as analysis before it is suitable for use in a company’s decision-making process. Such sorting and analysis of relevant data is usually carried out by software solutions, to ensure superior speed and accuracy of the data collection and analysis procedure. Any and all software solutions aiding the process of generating Business Intelligence for an enterprise are termed as Business Intelligence Tools. So BI data can help an enterprise rapidly adjust to changing business environment, while BI tools ensure that the changing business environment is rapidly as well as correctly identified and reported to facilitate a streamlined decision-making process. In case of historic data, BI tools usually sort and analyze data, which was previously stored in the enterprise database.

Commonly Used Business Intelligence Tools

BI tools are commonly classified into the following categories:

• Local Information Systems
• Business Performance Management
• Process Mining
• Dashboards
• Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)
• Data Warehousing
• Data Mining
• Reporting and Querying Software
• Spreadsheets

Most of these Business Intelligence technology and tools apart from spreadsheets are available as part of software suitable for a specific industry, standalone solutions, ERP system components or as a BI software suite. These solutions are often developed by a custom development company in response to requirements specified by a client or detected after a thorough analysis of the company’s business model. A few open-source business intelligence tools are also available, however most enterprises prefer to use proprietary business intelligence technology to ensure adequate protection of critical data. The type of business intelligence architecture implemented by an organization varies on the industry, market conditions as well as specific market requirements. Some of the commonly available BI tool categories are described here:

Local Information Systems

The term Local Information System (LIS) originated from its use in the public sector of the UK; other terms used synonymously with LIS in different parts of the world include – Data Observatory and Community information systems. In the global business intelligence technology market, LIS applications are usually limited to providing support for geographic reporting of enterprise operations. The functions supported by LIS tools often overlap with some of the features of Geographic Information Systems and Knowledge Management tools. Unique functions of LIS include providing a region-specific database accessible by citizens, policy makers, managers as well as data experts. LIS statistics are usually compiled with respect to a small area such as the National Neighborhood Statistics projects in the UK. Currently operating Local Information Systems include the DarlingtonLIS, UK; Newcastle Council; New Zealand Ministry of Health and Fife Council, UK.

Business Performance Management

Business Performance Management (BPM) refers to a set of management as well as analytical processes designed to facilitate improvement of a company’s processes in accordance with the preset goals of the organization. Such tools are capable of handling large amounts of data and help managers in determining fruitful interventions designed to improve the functioning of specific business processes. Currently available tools for BPM are based on the balanced scorecard framework and queries supported by BPM tools include metric-related queries, customer/stakeholder queries, goal-alignment queries, cost/risk queries as well as much more.

Process Mining

Process Mining is commonly defined as a process management technique which allows decision-makers to analyze business processes on the basis of available event logs. These event logs are automatically generated by the enterprise event system and the aim of Process Mining is to facilitate improvement of overall performance by providing tools and techniques designed to identify social, organizational, control and process structures by using the event logs. The technique is preferred if other conventional techniques fail of provide adequate insight into an enterprise process. Process Mining features in certain contemporary management techniques such as Business Process Intelligence, Business Operations Management and Business Activity Monitoring. Current Process Mining techniques are classified into the following categories: extension, conformation analysis and discovery.

Dashboards

Dashboards are defined as an easily read, real-time interface, which provides a snapshot of the current status of key business processes as a chart or graph. Dashboards are one of the most prolific and widely used tools for supporting informed and instantaneous decision making. Dashboards are capable of displaying a wide variety of user-defined key performance indicators significant for different departments of an organization. A production dashboard can display the total number of units produced, the average rate of production per hours, number of produced units which failed inspection during a one month period and so on. The key benefit of a dashboard is its capability to be customized to show only the relevant data, which results in significant time savings during the process of decision making. Currently available dashboards are commonly classified into three categories- desktop widgets, web-based applications as well as standalone solutions, which feature spark lines, bullet graphs, pie charts and/or bar charts to represent the data. Dashboards are also capable of being integrated into mobile business intelligence solutions to ensure seamless connectivity irrespective of the user’s location.

Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)

OLAP tools are designed to help users interactively analyze multidimensional data from multiple perspectives. OLAP as a business intelligence method includes various aspects of data mining and rational reporting. The term Online Analytical Processing is a derivative of OLTP (Online Transaction Processing), which is used in reference to traditional databases. Key analytical operations performed by these tools are- consolidation, drill-down and slice ‘n’ dice. The consolidation process refers to the aggregation of data to enable its analysis on multiple dimensions. The drill-down technique enables users to navigate through large quantities on data to sort out the relevant data. The slice ‘n’ dice technique allows users to remove (slice) a particular data set to allow closer inspection (dicing) of the selected data set. Databases with OLAP support utilize a multidimensional data model for supporting rapid execution of both ad-hoc as well as complex analytical queries.

Abhishek is currently working with eXtendCode Software Systems India, an offshore software development [http://www.extendcode.com/] company based at Gurgaon in India, which provides software solutions such as Web Enabled Solutions, Mobile Solutions etc. He has worked in the field for over 2 years and authored many articles related to the IT and software industries.

Business Intelligence – The 5 Stage Process to Maximize Business Profits

Every business works with the aim of earning profits and this can be achieved by taking the right business decisions. Business leaders take innumerable decisions that influence the work in various ways. However, the ultimate goal is to make the decisions effective enough in order to carve the path of profit for the organizations. Hence, successful implementation of plans is the foremost need of every business and Business Intelligence proves helpful in this context. Let’s get an insight to Business Intelligence and its components:

Business Intelligence:

Business Intelligence plays a primary role while implementing strategies and the right planning procedures. BI technology assists its users in gathering, storing, accessing, and analyzing the data. The set of applications covered under Business Intelligence allows the companies in effective implementation of Decision Support System, applying Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) concepts, Statistical Analysis, Forecasting, and Data Mining.

Business Intelligence serves in sending the information to the right decision makers at the right time. BI is preferred by lot of users, as it leads them in reaching the facts based on conclusion or more commonly known as ‘single version of the truth’. This gives the best end product and leads an organization to convert the raw data into useful information; thus, bringing profits.

Characteristics of a Business Intelligence Solution:

It is a single point of access to information
It gives well-timed answers to business questions
It allows effective implementation of BI tools, applications, and systems in all departments of an organization

Stages of a Business Intelligence Process:

Business Intelligence process gathers raw data and converts it into useful information; and further transforms it into knowledge that must be used with intelligence. The BI process is based on five major stages mentioned below:

Data Sourcing: This stage works on gathering the data from different sources including, E-Mail messages, images, formatted tables, reports, sounds and other relevant sources. The major role of Data Sourcing is to gather the data in digital form; therefore, the sources for collecting data are computer files, digital cameras, scanners etc.

Data Analysis: The next stage is to arrange the data collected from Data Sourcing and estimating the data depending upon the current and future trends. Also known as Data Mining, this stage also predicts the information that will be needed in future.

Situation Awareness: This stage of the Business Intelligence process helps in filtering the relevant data and using it in relevance to the business environment. The users compile the data by keenly observing the market forces or Govt. policies, so that it becomes easier to take decisions. Combinations of different Algorithms are used to aptly identify the Situation Awareness.

Risk Assessment: Taking risks is part of every business; but, if one can take precautions, it turns extremely helpful. Risk Assessment stage helps in identifying the current and future risks, including cost benefits; choosing the best options; and comparison between two decisions to identify which one will turn beneficial. It summarizes the best choice amongst varied options.

Decision Support: This last stage in BI process aids in utilizing the information with intelligence. The aim of this stage is to warn the users about various crucial events like poor performance by staff, takeovers, changing trends in market, sales fluctuations and much more. It aids in taking better business decisions for improvising staff morale and customer satisfaction.

Significance of Business Intelligence:

Business Intelligence plays a significant role in the working of organizations and helps them to continue with progression. Following is the significance of Business Intelligence:

BI helps in studying the changing demands; therefore, a company can have accurate and updated information about customer preferences
It aids the Managers to remain informed about competitors’ behavior and their actions
It assists the analysts in knowing the adjustments that need to be done for maximizing profits
It helps organizations to make future plans based upon relevant data organized to give better results.

Business Intelligence Users:

IT Users: These users make use of BI tools for development purposes, including Data Integration, Data Modeling, Report Generation, Presentation, and Final Delivery. IT users also use it for supporting the individuals in the organization and provide reports to the outside customers.
Power Users: These types of users include ‘Professional Analysts’ who have been using the BI tools. These users study the pre-defined reports and provide support in taking the right decisions, but they are not obligated to take decisions.
Business Users: They review the analysis report presented by the Power Users. These users can apply their own queries on the data, and create reports based on those queries.
Casual Users: These users have the privilege of making changes in report information and may enter the data that can help to perform further high-level research.
Extra-Enterprise Users: These users are usually not a part of an organization and are external sources that help the companies in taking more tactical decisions. These may include External Partners, Customers, Business Analysts, Suppliers etc.

Hence, Business Intelligence solutions assist the organizations to take effective decisions and get a deeper insight of business data in order to meet the specified goals. By using all the tools, applications, and systems, organizations can speed up the delivery of product by achieving the targets.

Business Intelligence, The Key To Company Success

Business Intelligence (BI) is the ability to transform data into information and information into knowledge, so as to optimize the business decision-making process. A set of strategies and tools focused on knowledge creation and management through the analysis of existing data from an organization or business.

From the point of view of information technology, we can say that BI is a set of methodologies, applications and technologies that allow a business to the group and transform the data obtained from structured information systems to do analysis and information generation and improving the process decision-making of the business. It covers both current understanding of the functioning of the business as well as an anticipation of future events, in order to provide a body of knowledge to support business decisions.

Referring to business intelligence, we can differentiate the concepts of data, information and knowledge. Data is something that is vague, for example, the number 10, while the information is more accurate, such as April sales were 10. Finally, knowledge is obtained by analyzing the information.

Data are the minimum semantic unit and are the primary elements of information. These alone are irrelevant to the decision-making process. A phone number or a name of a person are examples of data.

The data can come from external or internal company sources, can be objective or subjective, qualitative or quantitative.

Moreover, the information can be defined as a set of processed data, which are relevant and have a purpose and context. The information is useful for decision-making, as it allows reducing uncertainty. The data is transformed into information to add value.

The information is capable of changing the way the receiver perceives something, impacting on their value judgments and behaviors.

Information = Data + Context (value added) + Utility (reduce uncertainty)

Knowledge can be defined as a mixture of experience, values, information and know-how, that form a framework to incorporate new experiences. The knowledge derived from the information and information from data. In order that information becomes knowledge is necessary to perform actions such as:

· Comparison with other elements.

· Prediction of consequences.

· Searching for connections.

· Talk with other carriers of information.

By gaining knowledge of the business once the information is captured from all areas in the business, you can set strategies and define what are the strengths and weaknesses of the business.

Business Intelligence is the broader concept of the use of intelligence in organizations. This has emerged from the contributions of the various areas of information such as market intelligence, competitive intelligence and business intelligence.

Market Intelligence corresponds to the strategic management discipline within companies that allow a more deeply know of the market and the company’s performance within it, through a constant flow of information.

Competitive Intelligence is defined as the process of collecting and analyzing information on the activities of competitors, so as to support the achievement of the goals of the business. Through a continuous flow of information, allows a business to know what the competitors are doing in the commercial, financial, and organizational aspects.

Finally, Business Intelligence refers to the set of tools to extract business experience. A set of systems to delineate dynamic customer base, such as sales trends, niche value, customer churn, profitability segments.

Intelligence tools are based on the use of information systems that bring together data from production processes, information relating to the business and economic data.

Using the techniques to extract, transform and load (ETL), data extracts from different sources, are purified and prepared for a load them into a data repository.

This toolkit has the following features:

• Access to information. The data are the primary source of this process. Systems have to ensure user access to data regardless of the source of these.

• Support the decision making process. Beyond the presentation of information, users need access to analysis tools, and select the data that interest them.

• Orientation to the end user. Independent expertise of users, these systems, must provide facilities that allow users to use these tools.

Business intelligence acts as a strategic factor for a business to build competitive advantage, by providing privileged information to respond to business problems: entering new markets, product promotions or offers, eliminating islands of information, control finances, cost optimization, production planning, customer profiling analysis, profitability of a particular product.

The main business intelligence products that exist in the market are:

• Balanced Scorecards (BSC) are tools to establish and monitor the objectives of the business and its different areas or units.

• Systems Decision Support (DSS) corresponds to interactive information systems that help companies make decisions, using data and models to solve unstructured or semi-structured decision. Supports decision making by generating a systematic evaluation of different alternatives or scenarios for decision.

• Executive Information Systems (EIS), are systems that provide top executives easy access to internal and external information that is relevant to their critical success factors. The Executive Information Systems support the decision making process of senior executives of an organization, presenting relevant information and using visual aids and easy to interpret, in order to keep them informed.

In reference to the origin of the data, existing components are: Datamart and Datawarehouse.

A Datamart is a departmental database, especially in storing the data that is specific to the business area. It is characterized by having an optimal data structure, to analyze information from all perspectives that affect the department.

Moreover, a data warehouse is a corporate database, characterized by integrating and debug information from one or more sources in order to allow analysis from many perspectives.

On the other hand, a Business Intelligence solution establishes a cycle from the following activities:

• Observe: what happens?

• Understand: Why is it?

• Predict: what will happen?

• Collaborate: what actions you should take the team?

• Decide: which way forward?

Why is it so important Business Intelligence?

For a business to be successful, it is very important the ability to make accurate and quick business decisions. Traditional information systems tend to be inflexible structures, making it difficult to adapt to the data capture processes of the business, and rapid generation of information for decision-making.

To overcome the limitations of these systems, business intelligence relies on a set of tools that facilitate the processes of extraction, purification, analysis and storage of data, with appropriate speed in order to support the decision making process of the business.

We cannot say that BI products are better than traditional applications, but they are developed for a different purpose, and therefore are more efficient for the decision-making process.

Business Intelligence solutions enable companies to:

• Process requirements quickly, intelligently and efficiently.

• Respond quickly and efficiently to changing conditions affecting the company.

• Establish information as the main asset of the business.

• Transform business data in intuitive graphical reports that can be analyzed quickly and easily.

Intelligence is the Key to Success. The Business Intelligence systems are now available to everyone. The well-designed BI applications can offer employees the ability to make better business decisions quickly, understand the various “information assets” in their business and how they interact.

We conclude that the key to thriving in a competitive marketplace is staying ahead of the competition. Making sound business decisions based on accurate and current information takes more than intuition. A Business Intelligence system thus becomes a determining factor for the success of the business.