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Business Intelligence (BI): what’s not to love about those two words being used together? The term implies the application of intelligence to business, but of course, there’s a bit more to it than that.
In most organizations, business processes such as manufacturing, sales invoice processing, etc. are powered by software. Most business would not be able to do what they do without functional business applications supporting key activities. These applications are generally referred to as operational or transactional systems.
As important as they are, most operational systems have some limitations, namely:
BI solutions were created to address these shortcomings.
The Challenge: How Do We Make Sense of All the Data We Have?
BI is a combination of software components and underlying technologies that allow organizations to consolidate data from a number of operational systems and data sources (internal and external), transform the data into meaningful information and provide the information to managers in a way that allows them to easily view and manipulate it to support decision making.
That’s a big concept, but what it really comes down to is that BI supports an organization’s transition from being data rich and information poor to information rich and capable of better, fact-based decision making. Recent economic realities have highlighted the importance of senior management having this operational and financial information at their fingertips. An effective use of BI should ensure the right information is available to the right decision makers at the right time.
Business Intelligence is a Management Initiative, Not an IT Initiative
IT should not lead BI projects. Although IT is an extremely important player, the initiative should be driven by the business. BI is one of the most robust managerial initiatives that smart managers can employ to help their organizations create more value for shareholders. Other initiatives include activity-based costing / management, economic value creation and the balanced scorecard.
A Six-Step Approach to Successful Implementation of a Business Intelligence Solution
We recommend a six-step approach to successfully implement BI:
Business Intelligence Gives Organizations an Edge over the Competition
BI is an enterprise-wide strategy that supports reporting, analysis and decision making on multiple levels. It supports organization-wide analysis, which in turn leads to insight, action and the proper measurement of results. The BI approach has been successful at giving many leading companies an edge over the competition because it brings people and technology together to solve business problems using a fact-based approach.
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