What Is Business Intelligence?
Business intelligence is the cumulative outcome of an organization's data, software, infrastructure, business processes, and human intuition that delivers actionable insights in the form of reports, dashboards, and visualizations to help inform decision makers.
Business intelligence is a component of business analytics. Business analytics is the process of finding the insights, while business intelligence is concerned with how the insights are consumed or delivered to support decision-making.
Why Is Business Intelligence Important?
Business intelligence is important because it communicates insights about a business — gleaned from the larger business analytics process — to people in a way that can be easily understood and digested.
It shows businesses — in dashboards, reports, or visualizations — what their data says about their processes, strategy, customers or overall performance. Business intelligence can then be used to solve problems and make better decisions, which ultimately leads to better business outcomes.
How Business Intelligence Works
Business intelligence involves surfacing the right analysis and insights to the right people — in the right context and at the right time — so that they can take action that solves a problem.
Here’s a simplified explanation of the steps involved in business intelligence work:
- Establish what business problems need to be solved
- Identify what insights are needed and who needs to receive the insights about the problem to fix it
- Develop a repeatable process to generate the insights needed to solve the problem
- Build reports and share the actionable insight
It’s important to remember that business intelligence is not a single solution but an entire ecosystem. And while there are parts of the ecosystem that fall in the BI software category, they rely on adjacent technologies to fulfill the vision of the actual business intelligence. Therefore, the process highlighted above spans these technologies before it culminates into the actionable insights that represent the sum of the entire business intelligence process.
Business Intelligence Techniques
Evaluating and transforming data to make it meaningful and easy to consume is a key part of business intelligence. Common business intelligence techniques include:
Reporting: Sharing out data analysis to the right people so they can draw conclusions and make decisions
Benchmarking: Comparing current performance data to past data using customized dashboards to track against business goals and industry standards
Querying: Asking a database a specific question and gathering the data that answers it
Data visualization: Turning data analysis into easy-to-digest visual representations like charts and graphs
Drill down analysis: Discovering more granular details from data visualizations such as charts and graphs through predefined click throughs to reveal the numbers behind the visualization
How Can Business Intelligence Be Used?
Business intelligence can benefit everyone at an organization, from C-suite executives to managers to mid-level and entry-level employees. It gives employees in every department access to the information they need to be more efficient, improve operational processes, navigate uncertainty, and drive positive business outcomes.
Marketers can measure campaign results, HR can optimize recruitment processes, finance can identify new revenue opportunities, and supply chain can track supplier performance — all thanks to business intelligence.
Powering Business Intelligence With Automated Analytics
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The platform is designed to:
- Accelerate your data analytics, moving your data to dashboards more quickly
- Unlock hidden insights and value with the ability to apply descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics to your data
- Enable collaboration and governance with a centralized repository, version control, on-demand reports, and sharing capabilities
Along with being able to ingest nearly any data source, Alteryx also integrates with industry-leading visualization platforms, like Tableau and Qlik, so you can go from data to insights seamlessly.
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