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  1. What Is
April 18, 2017updated 13 Oct 2022 8:46am

What is business intelligence?

By James Nunns

Business Intelligence (BI) refers to software applications that are used to analyse an organisation’s data.

The significance of data in a business has reached new highs but many of the ideas stemming from big data analytics, already have some history under the umbrella term business intelligence.

BI has been around in various forms for a number of years, dating back to at least 1989, but has now become increasingly swamped under the new umbrella term big data analytics.

Business Intelligence
(Image: Shutterstock)

Under this, there are numerous tools, applications, and methodologies that are designed to help businesses to collect data from both internal and external source, prepare it for analysis, and run queries against it in order to create reports.

Reports can be created and access through dashboards, data visualisation tools, and other processes in order to make the results of the analytic queries easy to understand.

The reason for doing this is to influence decision-making so that the business can internally operate more efficiently and externally gain a competitive advantage over business rivals. BI systems are capable of helping a business identify market trends and problems that need to be addressed.

Who are the top Business Intelligence vendors?

Data that can be used for BI can include historical information as well as data that is gathered from systems as it is generated. This means that it can support both strategic and tactical decision-making processes.

Numerous data analysis applications are covered by BI such as ad hoc analysis and querying, enterprise reporting, online analytical processing, mobile BI, real-time BI, operations BI, cloud and SaaS BI.

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BI can also include data visualisation software and can be linked to technologies such as Hadoop.

Some of the vendors that create the most popular BI tools are the likes of IBM, Birst, Information Building, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, SAS, Qlik, and Tableau.

BI is also often referred to as business analytics and it can be simply used for data analytics, but also include advanced analytics.

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