What Is Business Intelligence System?

Early Days Of BI:
The days when Computers were mass-produced, they were commercially used to store, view and analyze the business data and some business rules but the sophistication of interfaces meant for viewing the business-information came into action in incremental ways with passage of time. Today’s Business Intelligence is the result of enhancements and improvements over the primitive Business Systems created during early days of computers and the first time when computers were leveraged into business computation is late 1970s.

What Is BI System?
Business Intelligence is a system that allows storing, managing, viewing and analyzing the business data in human understandable fashions. The core component of Business Intelligence is data storage system and it could be RDBMS (Relational Database Management System) like MS SQL Server, IBM DB2, Oracle, Oracle MySQL, Derby, Sybase and Teradata; flat file systems like MS-Excel, OpenOffice Calc, XML(eXtensible Markup Language) and CSV File; In-Memory Data-Structures , Columnar Database Management System and ODBMS (Object Oriented Database Management System).

Who Generates BI Data?
All types Database Systems are used to store and manage the data generated by Business Applications like ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Management System), CMS (Content Management System), CMS (Call Management System), RMS (Roster Management System), AMS (Attendance Management System) and in-house Custom Application, Geo-Navigation System, Geographical Positioning System, Weapons Guidance System, Electronic Health Record Systems, Vehicle Registration & Transport Management System and any other applications capable of collecting operation-to-operation business data, public, health and other data. MS-Access and MS-Excel are also being adopted in most places to store data from Business Applications.

Since last 3 years, SNS (Social Networking Sites) like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google+,Vine,Instagram and Pheed have contributed a huge volume data for business analysis and these data come from the campaigns, leads management and other sales-marketing activities supported by them. Social Media Marketing through the Social Networking Sites like YouTube, MySpace,Pheed,Vine,Instagram and Google + have contributed a significant volume of data for business analysis and decision making areas.

What are BI Interface?
To view and analyze these data in easiest way, there was a need of an interactive and user-friendly GUI either as a standalone application or as web-based interface. This need has been fulfilled by BI’s User Interface and different BI products offer different types of User Interface to cater solutions to the same requirements in different ways by throwing the data into human understandable form. While creating this type of view of business data, they can access data directly from OLTP like RDBMS dedicated to Business Systems or Flat-File Systems or In-Memory Datastructure in raw-form. Alternatively, an intermediate process can be designed to simplify the complex form of data into simpler one and ETL Tools like Informatica, MS-DTS, Talend, Pentaho Kettle and Logixml ETL and in-built ETL and Custom program based ETL can be leveraged for that purpose. Once data is processed by the ETL Tools, they are loaded into pre-designed database-tables and the system created with these tables along with transformation logics plus repository details is called Data warehouse. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to categorize the data loaded inside BDW(Business Data  Warehouse) into smaller entities or groups generally depending upon the business functionality and they are called DataMarts.           

BI is used not only to view the Business Data but its main aim is to improve the Business understandings and streamlining the business activities and formulation of associated strategies and execution. It is used to analyze the historical data for knowing the profitability at any business level, to forecast the financial health, to know the cash-flow system and status. The real time data is analyzed through BI to know the day-today happenings and strategizing the real-time resolution of a business problem at operational or at functional level. Its outcome is also used in Business planning and activities scheduling, real-time decision making and understanding of customer behaviors and psychology across different aspects of the business. Well-conceptualized and diversified usage of BI helps in improving the business health giving the bigger scope for higher Business Value Additions.

Primarily, BI is used in Business houses and operations but it can be leveraged in other areas too like historical analysis of sports and games, weather forecast, analysis of agricultural production and benefits to farming sectors, analysis of circumstantial evidences and crimes and criminal records, trend analysis of droughts and calamities, behavioral patterns of voters and trend analysis of fashion and lifestyle.

What Is Business Cockpit?
The stack of software components or systems that are coupled together for Business Analysis is called Business Intelligence Platforms. In BI Platforms, there are different types of User Interfaces to leverage the solution to the different sets of requirement. In broader way, they are clubbed into four types namely Reports/Ad-Hoc Report Interface, Analytics, Dashboard/Scorecard and OLAP. Reporting interface is used to view pre-formatted report and to do some user-level actions like exporting them into PDF, Excel, CSV, Presentation and download of entire report-contents for offline-analysis. When some interactivity like drill-down, formatting and dimension-change is added to pre-formatted reports they are called Interactive Reports. Generally these types of report-outputs are generated on ad-hoc basis but same time they can also be scheduled to receive the report-outputs in a pre-specified frequency.

Business Users use BI much beyond simple-interactivity for interactive analysis of Business Data by adding different dimension and different aspects to data-presentations and they are catered through a specialized Interface called Business Analytics. It allows great flexibility in analysis and gives the human interpret-able view of Business Data. SAP, Oracle, SAS, Actuate and MircroStrategy are bigger BI vendors marketing Business Analytics.

To add the actual decision making intelligence, Business rules and business scopes are added to Business Analytics and they are called Self-Intelligent Analytics or Predictive Analytics. SAP-Sybase Markets this category of Business Analytics.

The managerial layer of Business users does not want to go through the chunk of data and they need highly specialized interfaces to arrange the Business matrices generally real-time business matrices and the same is achieved through Business Cockpit or Executive Dashboard. It is a special type of BI interface that allows to arrange and to configure different matrices keeping the security of data in place.

What are Business KPI(Key Performance Indicators)?
The Scorecard is also meant to represent the data in Dashboard like interfaces with some additional interactivity and business widgets attached to them. Dashboard generally allows placing the summary of Business data as Tables, Pivot Tables, Visuals (Thermometers, Gauges, Radars, 2/3 Axices Bar/Step/Area charts etc), Tickers and these smaller pieces of Business Information are called KPI (Key Performance Indicator).Logixml™, SAP, Jasper, QlikTech and IBM are some of BI vendors to market Executive Dashboard or Business Cockpit. Few Indian companies are also coming up to cater Executive Dashboard Solution and Maya Intelligence is one them.

What Are The Uses Of Social BI?
The evolution of Social Media and Social Viral Sales and Marketing initiative has given the birth of new face of BI and it is called as Social BI. Social BI is used to process, view and analyze the business data generated by Social Networking Sites and the associated business activities. It is becoming a part of mainstream BI because SNS is not only used for marketing and but e-tailing, e-grocery, eHealth and other e-commerce are also moving towards use of Social Networking site as sales-channels. Adidas and HP had done really good business from SNS in FY11-12. Yellowfin and Actuate BIRT Social are some of popular products in the ecosystem of Social Analytics or Social BI. The HootSuite’s Reporting capability, SummAll and Google Analytics™ are also similar types of product in market.

As the business decisions are also dependent on geographical location, climate and people of target region and its lifestyle, it has become necessity to view and analyze the geo-topographical data in doing the business analysis. This is made possible through geographical BI.GeoBI allows to plot the business information based on geographical coordinates and other business parameters like product name, product categories and brand. GeoBI takes the leverage of geo-coordinated data stored in the RDBMS/ODBMS capable of storing the business data mapped with geographical details.

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What Is GeoBI?
GeoBI™ is BI product with 100% support for Geo-Business Intelligence. Portability of report on hand-held devices like Smart phones, Tablet,Phablets and PaperTabs are made possible through a specialized feature of BI Platforms and it marketed as Mobile BI™. Actuate, Sybase and IBM are marketing Mobile BI bundled inside their BI Platforms.

The importance of owing the on-house BI-infrastructure is losing its share towards Cloud based BI either as Cloud-SAAS or Cloud-PASS. Cloud-SAAS Business Intelligence has already occupied the significant amount of market share as this Business Model is suitable not only for larger enterprises but also for the SMEs, MSEMs and smaller start-ups too. Social BI available under Cloud-SAAS model facilitates easiness to configure and deploy it as BI Capability.

What Makes BI A Great Success ?
The success of Business Intelligence depends upon the rate of user adoption too and which in turn depends upon the easiness and user-friendliness of BI solution delivered to different sets of users- end-Users, Business Users, Business Analysts and Management Executives. Although the success of BI comes by the passage of time with the increase in usage-adoption rate and its success depends on some strategies formulated at the initial stage of BI implementation. It is better idea to make BI an organizational initiative rather than making it only departmental or individual initiative, involving all users, managers including CEO,CMO and CFO and technical groups including CTO along with BI Consultant at the requirements analysis and design phase.

Active participation of CXO (CEO, COO, CMO, CFO) makes requirements understanding better and complete at level of organizational expectations leaving the enough room for implementation team and CIO/CTO to think and strategize better Solution for the given requirements. The proposed BI Solution can be broken up into different modules to get the user feedback during the first module and it helps in avoiding repetitiveness of already occurred functional and other mismatch in the expectation from first module. This practice helps in lowering the TCO and gives the higher ROI. Each suggestion or change request collected during UAT and UWT can be considered to make the better practices for up-coming modules and other future delivery to cater the best BI solution in industry.

Analysis & Author By: Amrit Chhetri, Copyright(C): Amrit, 2013
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2 thoughts on “What Is Business Intelligence System?

  1. Remo November 2, 2013 at 11:36 am Reply

    Bi is such an important element in business and this puts it all into perspective. Thanks Amrit.

    • Amrit Chhetri November 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm Reply

      Thanks.Here is another interesting blog about Social BI/Social Media Analytics ’10 Best Strategies Of Social Media Analytics’ http://bit.ly/195e8gv!

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