BI has multiple definitions in multiple publications. The Wikipedia definition for BI is this: “Business intelligence is a set of theories, methodologies, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information for business purposes.” In our opinion this is a very interesting definition because it shows a full image of a BI solutions, and not only the usual focus on the front-end tools that some definitions remark. Because to have a BI solution in place implies to follow some theories in the definition of the process such that some specific data model applies methodologies that help you to achieve efficiency during your implementation project and then the later maintenance, which define the correct architecture that gives you an appropriate Return of Investment based on the benefit that you will obtain from the BI project, and finally choose the set of technologies that meets with your requirements, specifications, and economic possibilities
There are also some other interesting concepts to define BI. One of them is focusing on the advantage that a company can get from implementing this kind of system as far as you can be more efficient in administrative tasks for gathering information and use your time to analyze the information to get conclusions. Also it’s important to remark that information that we are managing can come from internal and external sources to be able to analyze how we are performing our activities but also to compare with our competitors if they are publishing information or trying to analyze data from our target markets that we are going to access.
Another interesting concept is the possibility of forecasting the future. We are not talking about witches or fortune tellers; we are referring to finding the correct patterns that will allow us to anticipate what can be our sales if the conditions remain the same. What can happen if a new competitor enters the main market and steals 20% of our market share? Or what could be the result of increasing a 25% our sales force team by 25%? In this concept, the key feature is to gain the ability to detect which variables are correlated with each other and which of them are almost independent.
Interactivity is also one of the focuses that can give you an idea about what BI is. It’s really interesting that business analysts can investigate and navigate through the data to be able to discover these hidden patterns that can give you visibility of your near future.
A later element to mention with different BI definitions is knowledge, which is the result of applying BI techniques to big amounts of data stored in our databases or simplifying the formula: if you join Data + Analysis you get Knowledge.