What Is Business Intelligence (BI)?

Business intelligence refers to the technology that enables businesses to organize, analyze and contextualize business data from around the company. BI includes multiple tools and techniques to transform raw data into meaningful and actionable information.

BI systems have four main parts:

  1. A data warehouse stores company information from a variety of sources in a centralized and accessible location.
  2. Business analytics or data management tools mine and analyze data in the data warehouse.
  3. Business performance management (BPM) tools monitor and analyze progress towards business goals.
  4. A user interface (usually an interactive dashboard with data visualization reporting tools) provides quick access the information.

German market research firm Statista estimates the volume of data created worldwide by 2024 will be 149 zettabytes. This vast amount of data, or “big data,” has made business intelligence systems relevant for companies that want to harness its power for a competitive advantage. Many BI systems use artificial intelligence (AI) and other capabilities as a part of business analytics.

Key Takeaways:

  • Business intelligence offers a wide variety of tools and techniques to support reliable and accurate decision-making.
  • The most successful companies use BI to make sense of ever-increasing amounts of data in a fast and economical way.
  • BI-based, data-driven decision-making helps companies stay relevant and competitive.

Where is BI Used?

Sales, marketing, finance and operations departments use business intelligence. Tasks include quantitative analysis, measuring performance against business goals, gleaning customer insights and sharing data to identify new opportunities.

Here are examples of how various teams and departments use business intelligence.

  • Data scientists and analysts:

Analysts are BI power users, and they use centralized company data paired with powerful analytics tools to understand where opportunities for improvement exist and what strategic recommendations to propose to company leadership.

  • Finance:

By blending financial data with operations, marketing and sales data, users can pull insights from which decisions can be acted upon and understand factors that impact profit and loss.

  • Marketing:

Business intelligence tools help marketers track campaign metrics from a central digital space. BI systems can provide real-time campaign tracking, measure each effort’s performance and plan for future campaigns. This data gives marketing teams more visibility into overall performance and provides contextual visuals for sharing with the company.

  • Sales:

Sales data analysts and operation managers often use BI dashboards and key performance indicators (KPIs) for quick access to complex information like discount analysis, customer profitability and customer lifetime value. Sales managers monitor revenue targets, sales rep performance along with the status of the sales pipeline using dashboards with reports and data visualizations.

  • Operations:

To save time and resources, managers can access and analyze data like supply chain metrics to find ways to optimize processes. Business intelligence can also ensure that service level agreements are met and help improve distribution routes.

In a genuinely data-driven company, every department and employee can take advantage of BI-generated insights.

What is the Value of Business Intelligence?

Business intelligence’s highest value is its ability to support data-driven decisions. BI transforms pools of raw data into useful information that informs decisions and leads to actions that yield positive bottom-line impact.

BI systems drive decisions based on historical, current and potential future data.

  • Descriptive analytics:

These analytics reveal what has happened or is happening and are part of dashboards, business reporting, data warehousing and scorecards. When managed well, you’ll have a better understanding of problem areas in your business and can find opportunities to improve.

  • Predictive analytics:

These advanced analytics use data mining, predictive modeling, and machine learning to help make projections of future events and assess the likelihood that something will happen.

  • Prescriptive analytics:

These analytics reveal why you should take a particular action. Prescriptive analytics enable optimization, simulation, decision modeling and provide the best possible analysis for business decisions and actions.

BI software gathers sales, production, financial and many other business data sources. Many companies use industry data to benchmark performance against competitors.

The Benefits of Business Intelligence

Benefit Description
Advanced interactive dashboard representations of data using simple user interfaces offer the ability to visualize information in a graphical format to understand data more insightfully.
The ability to manage and meld access to various data sources provides a 360-degree view of your business and your company that is not possible in a siloed data environment.
Tools enable data-informed improvements in various business functions like marketing, finance, sales, operations, finance, support, HR and customer care individually and together.
Multi-Platform, Multi-User
BI applications work online and in mobile environments. Tools improve system performance so enterprises can distribute more information to targeted users faster. In multi-terabyte data warehouses, these tools provide excellent query performance.
Many systems offer user scalability to support advanced reporting and analysis. Dashboards and reports are available to many users, not just restricted to the organization's data analysts or executives.
Speed and Competitive Edge
BI can perform faster reporting, analysis and planning because of access to global data. The system's analysis capabilities make it possible to react to market or other conditions quickly.
Trusted Data and Accuracy
Reports can be highly customized, and KPIs monitored using more than one data source. Real-time generated reports offer relevant data, which helps organizations, and their employees make better decisions. These reports provide insights, access, accuracy, and relevance.
Analysis and Insights
BI processes vast amounts of data to forecast, budget, plan, and stay current. Competitive analysis helps companies understand the competition and benchmark competitor performance. This business intelligence enables product and service differentiation.
Decision-Making Support Efficiency and Productivity
Companies gain a competitive edge when they can leverage the existing data at the right time to make accurate decisions faster. A 360-degree view of all activities helps companies identify issues, improve operations, increase sales, and in turn, increase revenue.
Customer Satisfaction
BI can help you identify what services or products you're lacking and improve customer satisfaction by making necessary changes. Reports help you understand customer behavior, develop user personas, and use real-time data on the customer's feedback to make corrective changes and improve customer service and, therefore, satisfaction.
Employee Satisfaction
Using BI data, you can assess team members' strengths and weaknesses and assign relevant training modules to support success. BI tools can automatically recognize positive behavior while regularly tracking worker contributions and improvement.
BI insight into the corporation's raw data will help decision-makers analyze cost-saving opportunities like excess inventory, human resource redundancies, marketing overages, too many vendors or waste in facilities management.
Savings and Profitability
BI tools can analyze any discrepancies, inefficiencies, or errors. BI helps to increase profit margins by providing insights that lead to future sales and guide where to spend future budgets.
Strategic and KPI Targeting
BI assists companies in gaining a competitive edge by helping them find new opportunities and build smarter strategies. Use the data to identify market trends and help improve profit margins for the company. Reports based on tracking established KPIs ensure the enterprise stays on course to match or exceed goals.

Business intelligence has many benefits and can be a useful tool to achieve positive outcomes for your business.

How to Improve Your Business Intelligence to Make Your Company a Leader

BI and tools like AI may seem complicated. However, current user interfaces are straightforward and easy to use. So even smaller companies can take advantage of data to make profitable and positive decisions.

Examples of Business Intelligence Tools and Techniques

What are examples of business intelligence tools? Predictive modeling, data mining and contextual dashboards or KPIs are just some of the most common BI tools. Here are more tools and how they’re used.

  • Analytics. A BI technique that probes data to extract trends and insights from historical and current findings to drive valuable data-driven decisions.
  • Dashboards. Interactive collections of role-relevant data are typically stocked with intuitive data visualizations, KPIs, analytics metrics and other data points that play a role in decision-making.
  • Data mining. This practice uses statistics, database systems and machine learning to uncover patterns in large datasets. Data mining also requires pre-processing of data. End-users use data mining to create models that reveal patterns.
  • Extract Transfer Load (ETL). This tool extracts data from data-sources, transforms it, cleans it in preparation for reports and analysis and loads it into a data warehouse.
  • Model visualization. The model visualization technique transforms facts into charts, histograms and other visuals to support correct insight interpretation.
  • Online Analytical Processing (OLAP). OLAP is a technique for solving analytical problems with multiple dimensions from various perspectives. OLAP is useful for completing tasks such as performing CRM data analysis, financial forecasting and budgets.
  • Predictive modeling. A BI technique that utilizes statistical methods to generate probabilities and trend models. With this technique, predicting a value for specific data sets and attributes using many statistical models is possible.
  • Reporting. Reporting involves gathering data using various tools and software to mine insights. This tool provides observations and suggestions about trends to simplify decision-making.
  • Scorecards. Visual tools, such as BI dashboards and scorecards, provide a quick and concise way to measure KPIs and indicate how a company is progressing to meet its goals.

Examples of Business Intelligence Trends

BI is continually evolving and improving, but four trends – artificial intelligence, cloud analytics, collaborative BI and embedded BI – are changing how companies are using expansive data sets and making decisions far easier.

  • Artificial intelligence. AI and machine learning emulate complex tasks executed by human brains. This capability drives real-time data analysis and dashboard reporting.
  • Cloud analytics. BI applications in the cloud are replacing on-site installations. More businesses are shifting to this technology to analyze data on demand and enrich decision-making.
  • Embedded BI. When BI software is integrated into another business application, it’s called embedded BI or embedded analytics. Some of the benefits of embedded BI include enhanced reporting functionalities, and it’s been shown to improve sales and increase customer retention.

Many companies look to cloud-based or software-as-a-service (SaaS) instead of on-premise software to keep up with growing warehousing requirements and faster implementations. A growing trend is the use of mobile BI to take advantage of the proliferation of mobile devices.

Examples of Business Intelligence Software and Systems

BI software and systems provide options suited to specific business needs. They include comprehensive platforms, data visualization, embedded software applications, location intelligence software and self-service software built for non-tech users.

Here are some examples of the latest BI software and systems:

  • Business intelligence platforms. These are comprehensive analytics tools that data analysts use to connect to data warehouses or databases. The platforms require a certain level of coding or data preparation knowledge. These solutions offer analysts the ability to manipulate data to discover insights. Some options provide predictive analytics, big data analytics and the ability to ingest unstructured data.
  • Data visualization software. Suited to track KPIs and other vital metrics, data visualization software allow users to build dashboards to track company goals and metrics in real-time to see where to make changes to achieve goals. Data visualization software accommodates multiple KPI dashboards so that each team can set up their own.
  • Embedded business intelligence software. This software allows BI solutions to integrate within business process portals or applications or portals. Embedded BI provides capabilities such as reporting, interactive dashboards, data analysis, predictive analytics and more.
  • Location intelligence software. This BI software allows for insights based on spatial data and maps. Similarly, a user can find patterns in sales or financial data with a BI platform; analysts can use this software to determine the ideal location to open their next retail store, warehouse or restaurant.
  • Self-service business intelligence software. Self-service business intelligence tools require no coding knowledge to take advantage of business end-users. These solutions often provide prebuilt templates for data queries and drag-and-drop functionality to build dashboards. Users like HR managers, sales representatives and marketers use this product to make data-driven decisions.

#1 Odoo Business Intelligence

How Odoo Improves and Increases the Value of BI for Your Organization

BI tools can have an enormous impact on your business. They can help you improve your inventory control, better manage your supply chain, identify and remove bottlenecks in your operations and automate routine tasks. But for BI tools to be most effective, you first have to centralize data that’s stored in multiple disparate systems.

Odoo business intelligence tools take the data stored in your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and provides built-in, real-time dashboards with powerful reporting and analysis features. By centralizing data from your supply chain, warehouse, CRM and other areas with an ERP, Odoo business intelligence tools can help you identify issues, trends and opportunities, along with the ability to then drill down to the underlying data for even further insight.

It’s likely your business has large amounts of data that could be used to boost your profitability. The challenge is organizing and structuring your data in such a way that you can then glean insights. From there, you need to create clear, concise and actionable reports and data visualizations and distributing them to key stakeholders on your team. None of this can be done without advanced software, such as ERP products that collect and manage all your data.

Avail Our Odoo ERP Development Services To Strengthen Your Business

We, at kitekno ERP, provide end-to-end Odoo application development services to solve complex business problems for cross-industry use cases. Our development team carefully analyzes your business requirements and formulates effective strategies to deliver maximum benefits through Odoo application development. We also provide full-scale BI software development services to introduce advanced data analytics features that aid in delivering personalized user experiences. We have successfully completed several full-scale Odoo ERP development projects for startups and small-to-medium enterprises from across the globe. For more information, reach us out at More information….

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