“BI is about providing the right data at the right time to the right people so that they can make the right decisions”Nic Smith
Business Intelligence (BI) is not just software! Business Intelligence is inherently a process (containing both the strategical and technological side) that is ready to deliver accurate data to the right people and can support effective decision-making at any time.
Gartner defines BI as an umbrella term that includes “the applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance.” Being more than just a software, it means that to build a reliable BI architecture, you must often rely on both your team and external consultants. You can find out more about the power of BI, its limitation, and capabilities in our article “Business Intelligence” or “What Everyone is Talking About”.
So how does BI work?
Organizations are usually collecting data from different sources such as CRM and ERP systems or even simple spreadsheets. The collected data is then periodically (often daily) extracted, processed/cleaned, and stored into a data warehouse, data mart, or other data storage. (this is part of the “Extract, Transform and Load” process, or simply known as ETL).
The “transform” part of ETL ensures that data from the various sources is converted into the form it needs to be in so that it can be used seamlessly by another system. For instance, if one individual appears on the CRM system as an unqualified marketing lead and in the HR systems as a potential employee, ETL will ensure that this particular individual information is linked in a meaningful way to allow a single BI report to include data from both systems.
BI then uses a variety of tools to retrieve data and to present it to users visually and interactively, so they can interpret it, draw valuable conclusions, and make informed decisions. Furthermore, most of the modern BI platforms allow for collaboration, letting users work across the same data and the same files together in real-time regardless of their location. Its collaboration features make it easy and secure for everyone to share essential insights throughout their organization. What is more, many modern BI solutions such as Qlik Sense are assessable not only from desktop but also from mobile devices.