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Business Intelligence Systems

Defintion of Business Intelligence

In the past, enterprises viewed business intelligence as its collective thinking and sharing of information using collaborative tools.

This view has stepped up another notch with BI Tools becoming more readily available to large and mid-sized organisations.

Today, BI is considered more in terms of capability to extract real time data from transactional and enterprise systems, and present it to users in a meaningful way such that it is capable of supporting on the spot decisions.

Business Intelligence Tools

Business Intelligence Tools from BI Vendors such as Cognos, Business Objects, SAS, and the BI extensions to enterprise applications, such as those from Oracle and SAP, formed the starting point of more user friendly analytics and dashboards.

Today, there are a number of even more sophisticated business intelligence products than ever. And with products such as Microsoft PerformancePoint, the integration is extending right into desktop applications.

BI tools are no longer specialised and expensive products, requiring significant training, and IT intervention. They are now user constructed, published and driven by data owned by the business user. No IT required. And they are no longer confined to C-suite. The use for BI tools extends over at least 80% of the organisation.


Benefits of Business Intelligence

With todays faster business cycles, there is more need for decentralised decision-making, and an increased requirement for automation of business processes to reduce both costs and risks.

Top quality decisions require complete knowledge, not just data from customer and product databases. Much essential knowledge is sourced in email, documents in the content management system, and even outside the organisation.

BI tools now have the ability to integrate both transactional and other types of enterprise information into central repositories - data warehouses.

And business intelligence is expanding beyond the corporate walls - Cognos, SAS, Information Builders and Business Objects have all announced joint initiatives with Google, enabling use of Googles search interface to access relevant reports, dashboards and other documents within the organisation, as well as content world-wide.

Microsoft Office 2007 products have many embedded BI functions within the applications themselves.

Open source BI tools are also available to support small businesses - Pentaho and JReport are credible, lower-cost alternatives.

BI Software as a Service, previously known as ASP is also emerging as an affordable means of accessing BI technologies.

Regardless of the BI technology, good decision-making becomes harder as volumes of information increase and cycle times reduce. BI tools need to be embedded in business applications to such a degree that they are sychronous with the normal use of the tool, effectively transparent.

The ideal operational tool supporting closed-loop decision support may take some time, but organisations are finally waking up to the reality that the only way to view their organisations is holistically in terms of People - Process - Technology.

To improve our businesses we need business intelligence.


IT Intelligence

Intelligence is improving the management and performance of both IT architecture and systems, as well as providing enhanced business intelligence services.

As busineses recognize the value of the data they hold, there is an evolution of IS from being a business expense to a business asset.

Large data warehouse projects are dominating IT strategy today, in spite of standards and open integration of tools being less than ideal.

Intelligence is pervading networks, taking over many administrative functions such as provisioning, analytics, intelligent call routing etc

The sheer size of such programs of work, means starting now, in an imperfect technology is essential if companies are to stay competitive in the future.

With IT being such a diverse field, the application of intelligence is equally diverse. This signals the need for a comprehensive business intelligene strategy that will encompass both todays capabilities as well as those of the future.


Integrating Intelligence Into Business Systems

As business assets incorporate more intelligence, they move along the Artificial Intelligence continuum, releasing human resource from low value-add administrative tasks, to further engage in more innovative and creative functions.

Expert systems are being slowly integrated to support improved decision making and support more advanced human interaction with business knowledge.

The focus of technology and data has changed from accessing information to using information before it loses its value.

Regardless of where your company lies on the Intelligence continuum, the implementation of BI systems is a long and complex process, but one that will pay dividends in years to come. Before any implementation, a project business case and intiation phase must be completed.


Video - Business Intelligence Strategies

A short film that describes the need for a business intelligence strategy for your business or organization. [5:59]


NEXT: Augmented Business Intelligence


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