Business Intelligence (BI) is a set of concepts, methodologies, and technologies to improve decision making in business systems. It allows organizations to improve business performance by leveraging information about customers, suppliers, and internal business operations.
Knowing your business, market, customers and competition is essential for any organization. Increasing complexity and uncertainty worldwide demand that organizations continue to improve their ability to understand and anticipate changes. In the past, IT departments made significant investments in business intelligence (BI) solutions to gather, analyze and share this information with top-level executives and decision-makers.
Recent events and experiences have taught us that the true driver of success comes from putting information and insight into the hands of many different users. Companies are most likely to reach desired business outcomes when many different business users can access complete, consistent and trustworthy information.
Many organizations are using BI technologies to help. The key is to unleash BI with solutions everyone can use to answer key business questions. Business users need a simple and intuitive experience that helps them engage and find answers to their own questions. And they shouldn’t have to switch environments or learn new applications as they expand their thinking.
They need software that can keep pace with the way they think, decide and respond. In this document, we discuss how important it is to address the different BI needs of your business constituents, so they have insight when and where they need it. As a general rule of thumb, the further up within an organization the more summarized the information requirement becomes Requirements for reporting at the senior/executive management level are geared more towards trends, patterns and exceptions in the data rather than the every piece of detail data itself. In a traditional reporting environment, this either means that same data has to be reformatted, summarized and reported multiple times in order to disseminate appropriate levels of reporting details to the target recipients.
Additionally, the problems with traditional paper reports are:
Advanced transaction processing systems, for example, can easily crunch huge volumes of data. But they fail to reflect the business insight that turns all that data into opportunity and growth. For all their glitzy success, advanced technologies can’t get into the heads of the people who deploy them. They don’t know, for example, what goals and metrics the CEO is
going to lay out for next quarter. Nor can they read a business manager’s mind and predict next year’s budget figures. These systems are incapable of knowing what personnel throughout the organization are thinking and planning—and what those plans ultimately mean to operations. Admittedly, by automating routine, time-consuming tasks, these systems free up time for decision-makers to add strategic value. They also generate and store data that can provide key insights. However, more than any single technology or combination of systems, it is the insight of real people that lies at the root of future business growth.
And it is that insight that today’s automated systems are not architected to understand.
Of course, insight doesn’t just happen. The business managers need the right information, in the right form, and at the right time, if they are going to leverage their skills to advance the state of the organization. Unfortunately, too many users don’t feel they have the information they need to effectively run their business. A recent survey of 1,000 global managers highlighted some troubling results:
What this means for the average organization is stark: For all their efficiencies, they’re doing a substandard job equipping their people to think their way to competitiveness. Companies are losing traction because they’ve spent so much time, money, and energy on brute force technology and not enough on equipping their employees to get the most out of it.
Earlier generations of BI solutions typically targeted specific, high-level roles in an organization, so few people ever had occasion to use them. Instead, they analyzed information using conventional office productivity tools such as spreadsheets and desktop databases. The impact on an organization was significant. Most managers and much of the workforce had grown adept at using the basic tools available to them, but this ad-hoc strategy was not enough to satisfy their expanding information management needs. They were unable to obtain the kind of detailed reports that would truly aid them in their jobs, and often lacked timely access to critical information. They needed better solutions to turn their insight into action so the benefits of their knowledge would be realized, not lost. As a result, the BI market was transformed in the early decades of current century, offering BI solutions that put the right information into the right hands throughout an organization.
Basically, BI solutions moved BI out of the hands of the relatively few and into the hands of nearly everyone who could benefit. These solutions scaled BI for the entire organization, aligning the tools to the day-to-day workflow of those who used them.
We are now in the decade of smart. The world is increasingly instrumented, interconnected and intelligent. More data is available than ever before—and not just from business systems and communications devices. The influence the Internet and social networks have on how people think and communicate is growing by leaps and bounds. In this fast, interconnected and complex world, it is no longer sufficient to decide and act based on limited information, traditional time horizons or strategic planning cycles. Business users need BI solutions that are designed to provide agility—the ability to assess, reinvent and adjust.