The term Business Intelligence (BI) refers to technologies, applications and practices for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information. The purpose of Business Intelligence is to support better business decision making. Essentially, Business Intelligence systems are data-driven Decision Support Systems (DSS). Business Intelligence is sometimes used interchangeably with briefing books, report and query tools and executive information systems.
Business Intelligence systems provide historical, current, and predictive views of business operations, most often using data that has been gathered into a data warehouse or a data mart and occasionally working from operational data. Software elements support reporting, interactive slice-and-dice pivot-table analyses, visualization, and statistical data mining. Applications tackle sales, production, financial, and many other sources of business data for purposes that include business performance management. Information is often gathered about other companies in the same industry which is known as benchmarking.
Currently organizations are starting to see that data and content should not be considered separate aspects of information management, but instead should be managed in an integrated enterprise approach. Enterprise information management brings Business Intelligence and Enterprise Content Management together. Currently organizations are moving towards Operational Business Intelligence which is currently under served and uncontested by vendors. Traditionally, Business Intelligence vendors are targeting only top the pyramid but now there is a paradigm shift moving toward taking Business Intelligence to the bottom of the pyramid with a focus of self-service business intelligence.
Self-service business intelligence (SSBI) involves the business systems and data analytics that give business end-users access to an organization’s information without direct IT involvement. Self-service Business intelligence gives end-users the ability to do more with their data without necessarily having technical skills. These solutions are usually created to be flexible and easy-to-use so that end-users can analyze data, make decisions, plan and forecast on their own. Companies such as PARIS Technologies have taken an approach to making Business Intelligence an easily integrated tool for other end-user tools such as Microsoft Excel, Access, Web browsers and other vendors.