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What is Business Intelligence Software?

Business intelligence (BI) and business intelligence software explained.

Business Intelligence Definition: What is BI?

The phrase business intelligence (BI for short) is the combination of software applications, methodologies and business systems that play a key role in the strategic planning process of a corporation.

Most companies collect huge amounts of data from its business operations. Keeping track of that information requires a wide range of software programs and different database applications for various departments (e.g. sales, finance, supply) throughout the organization to access and use the data.

Using multiple software programs makes it difficult to retrieve information in a timely manner and to perform analysis of the data. A business intelligence solution replaces the multiple tools traditionally used to collect and analyze the data.  

Editor's Recommendation: Webopedia's business intelligence (BI) definition.

In many ways business intelligence is a catch-all phrase as it does not refer to one single type of analysis or data, but rather it represents a variety of methodologies, technologies, and software applications and tools to organize and analyze all of a businesses' data.

The effect of a business intelligence system, however, is much easier to define. The BI system takes all the raw data and provides an organization with useful and relevant reports and graphs that management and decision-makers within the organization can make sense of -- and then use --  to analyze business trends to capitalize on.

Business Intelligence Software Explained

Business intelligence software (also called BI software) is software that is designed specifically to analyze all the business data, through automated processes, to provide a better understand an organization's strengths and weaknesses. It is the organization's business intelligence software that allows management to better see the relationship between different data for better decision-making and deployment of resources. Business Intelligence software plays a key role in the strategic planning process of the corporation.

Editor's Recommendation: Webopedia's business intelligence (BI) software definition.

Business intelligence software is often referred to as business intelligence tools (BI tools) representing a number of software applications that integrate to provide the means to report, analyze and then present the data. Business intelligence software is also designed to use data that is stored by the business in a any type of data storage system or data warehouse.

The types of tools that make up a business intelligence software application solution generally include tools for spreadsheets, operational dashboards, data mining, reporting, search (query), analytics processing (OLAP), content viewer, and other components of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Often, business intelligence software may also integrate tools designed for specific verticals, such as retail, healthcare or education.

Business intelligence software applications can be deployed in a number of ways, with the following being the most common options:

Editor's Recommendation: A Cloud Computing Dictionary Resource, 22 Cloud Computing Terms Defined.

A Dictionary of Business Intelligence Terms

Webopedia's Business Category offers definitions to more than 60 technology terms and phrases related to business intelligence and enterprise applications. You can view all related terms definitions here.

Related Business Intelligence Articles

Analyst Perspectives – A General Look at Business Intelligence for the Mid-Market
Whether long time BI advocates or new to the cause, SMBs do have unique requirements in comparison to their enterprise counterparts.

Three Ideas That Could Bring Business Intelligence to the Masses
IT buyers looking to justify the expense of BI try to extend its use to upper-level executives and business processes, rather than demand that vendors extend the interface approach of popular consumer apps to using data, or that it give the line supervisor who uses it at home a leg up at work.

Merging CPM, BI and Analytics
With Business Intelligence Suites attaching to more and more disparate sources of information within a corporate environment, and the processing power and availability of analytical systems within these Suites, are the three classic disciplines of Corporate Performance Management (CPM), Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics beginning to merge into one seamless subject?

Consider Cloud Hosting Your Business Intelligence and Analytics
The rise of analytics has been well documented, in fact, business analytics has seen robust growth despite the economic recession and we've seen double-digit growth year-over-year.

Is Business Intelligence for Small Business, Too?
If you don't know everything you'd like to know about what makes your business tick -- what works, what doesn't and how much it all costs -- you need business intelligence or BI.

Based in Nova Scotia, Vangie Beal is has been writing about technology for more than a decade. She is a frequent contributor to Ecommerce-Guide and managing editor at Webopedia. You can tweet her online @AuroraGG.

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