Business Intelligence systems
allow organizations to improve business performance by leveraging information about customers, suppliers, and internal business
operations. BI systems:
- Extract data from many sources, such as
Customer Relationship Management (CRM),
Supply Chain Management
(SCM), and Enterprise Resource
Planning (ERP) systems, and other applications.
- Centralize, organize, and standardize information in repositories,
such as data warehouses and data marts. This may also involve cleaning the data and
appending additional data.
- Provide analytical tools that allow a broad range of business and
technical specialists to run queries against the data to uncover patterns and
Extract, Transform and Load (ETL)
Data integration technology is generally used to extract transactional data from
internal and external source applications to build the data warehouse. This overall
process and the steps in it are referred to as ETL
for extract, transform and load. The data is extracted from its source application or
repository, transformed to the format needed for the data warehouse, and then loaded into
the data warehouse. Data integration technology works hand-in-hand with technologies like
Enterprise Information Integration (EII), database replication,
Web Services, and
Enterprise Application Integration
(EAI) to bridge proprietary and incompatible data formats and application protocols.
Data Warehouses and Data Marts
A data warehouse or
data mart stores tactical or historical information in a
relational database and allows the user to extract and assemble specific data elements from
a complete dataset to perform a variety of analyses. The data warehouse can be architected
according to schema (star, snowflake, etc), data composition (values and attributes) and
dimension levels, and descriptors. Data marts enable additional segmentation within a broader
data warehouse environment.
Query, Reporting and Analysis
Technical and business analysts use a variety of
tools to access data, analyze information, and view the results. They include:
Query and Reporting Tools Most BI systems allow
users to perform historical, "slice-and-dice" analysis against information stored in a
relational database. This type of analysis answers "what?" and "when?" inquiries. A typical
query might be, "What was the total revenue for the eastern region in the third quarter?"
Often, users take advantage of pre-built queries and reports.
- On-Line Analytical Processing (OLAP) and Data Mining.
analytical engines and data mining tools allow
users to perform predictive, multidimensional analysis, also known as "drill-down" analysis.
These tools can be used for forecasting, customer
profiling, trend analysis and even fraud detection. They answer "what if" and "why?"
questions, such as, "What would be the effect on the eastern region of a 15 percent
increase in the price of the product?"
Business Performance Management.
BPM uses real-time business intelligence to proactively improve productivity and encourage continuous
process improvement in an enterprise. This approach extends the more traditional approach of
and can include financial, organizational, customer service, supply chain, and channel performance management.
- Information Delivery. Query results and reports can be delivered through dedicated desktop
applications, dashboards, intranets,
and extranet portals.
Business Intelligence and Web Services
Business Intelligence is being fundamentally changed by
eXtensible Markup Language (XML) and the
emerging Web Services model. XML provides a universal syntax for the representation of
data, enabling integration and analysis across BI environments and across traditional
organizational and technical boundaries. As this area evolves, it becomes easier for
different organizations to share data.
For more information on choosing the right BI solution for your company,
please read our Business Intelligence
Go to Bitpipe Research
Guide: Business Intelligence.