BI Meaning & Definition

Business intelligence (BI) refers to the tools, systems, and strategies that create analysis and planning processes within a corporation. Comprehensive BI systems allow a company to gather, store, access, and analyze corporate data to aid in decision-making.

This insight is most beneficial in the areas of customer profiling, customer support, market research, market segmentation, product profitability, statistical analysis, and inventory and distribution analysis among others.

What are the components of business intelligence?

Business intelligence software is designed with the primary goal of extracting important information from an organization’s raw data to reveal insights that will help a business make faster and more accurate decisions. BI software typically integrates data from across the enterprise and provides end-users with self-service reporting and analysis. The core components of a business intelligence strategy include online analytical processing (OLAP), corporate performance management (CPM), data warehousing, data mining, and real-time reporting.

OLAP technology is based on the OLAP cube, a data structure optimized for quick data analysis. This enables four types of multidimensional data analysis: drill down, roll up, slice-and-dice, and pivot. These analyses are done very quickly on a large volume of data and provide a foundation for complex calculations, trend analysis, and data modeling.

Performance management tools are helpful for taking the focused data for different parts of a business and aggregating it into an operational plan. They’re helpful for a variety of situations, including budget forecasting, supply chain management, and risk management among others.

Not to be mistaken with a database, a data warehouse aggregates data from numerous sources for comparative analytics. Data warehousing allows business leaders to examine data from multiple applications or systems within the organization and understand how they are related.

Data mining is the process of uncovering patterns and unseen relationships across large sets of information. It uses a combination of statistics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to determine what is most important from dense, repetitive data.

Perhaps most importantly, the real-time reporting capabilities of business intelligence software are what help an organization make a decision using live data. This is especially useful in marketing scenarios where a last-minute campaign or slight shift can have a dramatic impact on sales.

What are examples of business intelligence tools?

Examples of business intelligence tools include:

  • Oracle Analytics Cloud
  • IBM Cognos Analytics
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • MicroStrategy
  • SAP Business Objects
  • Zoho Analytics
  • SAS Visual Analytics
  • Tableau
  • QlikView
  • Dundas

What skills are needed for business intelligence?

Business intelligence is a growing career field and aspiring professionals are tailoring their skills to meet the demands of the job. Some of these skills include:

    • SQL, Python, and/or C/C++ programming language proficiency
    • Database management
    • Survey design
    • Problem solving
    • Trend analysis
    • Data modeling/visualization
    • Business acumen
    • Communication and collaboration



Webopedia Big Data Resources

What is business analytics?
What is business process?
Business Intelligence software
Predictive analytics
In-depth: Business Intelligence Software Explained
Open Source Business Intelligence Software
What is big data analytics?

Kaiti Norton
Kaiti Norton is a Nashville-based Content Writer for TechnologyAdvice, a full-service B2B media company. She is passionate about helping brands build genuine connections with their customers through relatable, research-based content. When she's not writing about technology, she's sharing her musings about fashion, cats, books, and skincare on her blog.

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