Business intelligence or BI is the term used for the tools and systems that are used in the strategic planning of any company. The systems used are meant to perform the gathering, storing, analyzing and accessing the data that is relevant to the decision making process of the business. Businesses can benefit from this system in terms of direction setting, management, operations, planning, and problem solving.
You can liken this to the learning management systems used by educational institutions. It is meant to be used on data that will aim to help improve the business in general.
Among the specific tasks of the system includes profiling customers, monitoring customer support, market research, analysis of product profitability, inventory, distribution tracking including analysis and other statistical analysis of relevant data. There are more tasks and the exact details of the business intelligence systems will depend on the type of industry the company belongs to.
One thing is for sure, all businesses collect a lot of information that sifting through it can be very challenging. You want to make sure that you do not exclude any important information as it can turn the tide in the decisions making process. A small slip of data can greatly affect your business operations.
Not only that, you want to be able to analyze the data a lot faster. A well constructed BI system can do that for you. It can help you go through the raw files to find the data that you need as quickly as possible. This is done through the efficient integration of the data across a departments and even across companies – when needed. It also has the ability to shield confidential information to keep unauthorized people from gaining access to it.
Linking these software programs together can help connect department with each other – regardless of time and distance. This is where the Internet becomes an important part of business intelligence. Sharing information can now be done more efficiently and faster too – thanks to the web.
Using technology to gather everything is vital in the accuracy and efficiency of this particular business process. There are a wide range of programs that are currently in use. The most simple include Access, Excel and other database applications.
Among the major vendors of business intelligence systems include Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, IBM, Information Builders, MicroStrategy, and SAS. There are a couple of startup BI companies that are entering the market but it is the abovementioned companies that are currently holding a huge share of the market.
What makes business intelligence all the more important is the way it levels the playing field for a lot of small businesses. The most basic of the systems are actually very affordable and will provide the same assistance in managing enormous amounts of data.
The role of business intelligence in a company will continue to evolve as technology offers more sophisticated software programs. It is up to companies to keep pace and determine which new program should replace the current. This is how they can be assured of a continuous improvement in their respective core competencies.