Business Intelligence

BI Overview

Business intelligence (BI) refers to a variety of software that analyzes organization’s raw data. Technically it includes some activities as data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting.

Companies use BI to improve decision making, cut costs and identify new business opportunities

BI Benefits

1. Eliminate guesswork: "Running a business shouldn't be like gambling," said Ken Dixon, executive vice president of marketing at Kogent Corporation. "Far too often, executives must rely on 'best guess' and 'gut feel' decisions as they attempt to steer their companies into the future. They do this because their business data lacks any structure to allow them to make truly informed choices. Business intelligence can provide more accurate historical data, real-time updates, synthesis between departmental data stores, forecasting and trending, and even predictive 'what if?' analysis," eliminating the need to guesstimate.

2. Get faster answers to your business questions: "BI users can quickly get answers to business questions, rather than spending hours reading through volumes of printed reports," said Wende Cover, director of strategic marketing at MicroStrategy.

3. Get key business metrics reports when and where you need them: Today, many business intelligence software vendors are making it possible for users to access key business metrics, reports and dashboards on mobiles devices like their iPhone, iPad, Droid or BlackBerry, giving sales and marketing people access to critical business information on the fly.

4. Get insight into customer behavior: One of the great benefits of business intelligence software is it allows companies to gain visibility into what customers are buying (or not), giving them "the ability to turn this knowledge into additional profit" and retain valuable customers, said Mike Meikle, CEO of the Hawkthorne Group, a boutique management and information technology consulting group that advises companies on business intelligence tools.

5. Identify cross-selling and up-selling opportunities: "Business intelligence software allows firms to leverage customer data to build, refine and modify predictive models [that help] sales representatives to up-sell and cross-sell products at appropriate customer touch points," said Mohit Joshi, vice president and global head of the Sales, Banking and Capital Markets Practice at Infosys Technologies.