What is Business Intelligence?

Here is a excerpt from the upcoming textbook, Fundamentals of Business Analytics….

What is Business Intelligence?

Per Wikipedia, Business Intelligence (BI) is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of software applications used to analyze an organization’s raw data.

BI as a discipline is made up of several related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting. BI can be used to support a wide range of business decisions ranging from operational to strategic as well as both basic operating decisions include product positioning or pricing and strategic business decisions include priorities, goals and directions at the broadest level.

The CHED memo breaks business intelligence into four phases:

  1. Data Gathering. Business analysts need to identify the appropriate data-gathering technique by conducting research. Once you have identified the right data, it needs to be captured. This process is the same as the identify process.
  2. Data Storing. A general term for archiving data in electromagnetic or other forms for use by a computer or device. There is a common distinction between forms of physical data storage is between random access memory (RAM) and associated formats, and secondary data storage on external drives. This process is akin to the first part of the inventory process.
  3. Data Analysis. The process of systematically applying statistical and/or logical techniques to describe and illustrate, condense and recap, and evaluate data is the analysis phase. Data analysis has multiple facets and approaches, encompassing diverse techniques under a variety of names. We need to have a data analysis to improve the company’s performance. This process is the 2nd half of the inventory process.
  4. Data Access. Data Access refers to software and activities related to storing, retrieving, or acting on data housed in a database or other repository. Two fundamental types of data access exist: sequential access (as in magnetic tape, for example) Data access crucially involves authorization to access different data repositories. Data access can help distinguish the abilities of administrators and users     For example, administrators may have the ability to remove, edit and add data, while general users may not even have “read” rights if they lack access to particular information. This phase is the equivalent of the integrate process.

It is important to note that business intelligence and business analytics are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are different.

From my perspective, the term business intelligence refers to collecting business data to find information primarily through asking questions, reporting, and online analytical processes.

Business analytics, on the other hand, uses statistical and quantitative tools for explanatory and predictive modeling. In this definition, business analytics can be seen as the subset of an enterprise wide BI strategy focusing on statistics, prediction, and optimization. The CHED memo is more closely aligned to that division as well as the primary focus is on the storage of data and the use of modeling.

As for myself, I worked with business intelligence software and methodologies with Wells Fargo long before I had even heard of the term BI. But for most of you reading this, that is ancient history. 🙂

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