Business Intelligence, The Key To Company Success

Business Intelligence (BI) is the ability to transform data into information and information into knowledge, so as to optimize the business decision-making process. A set of strategies and tools focused on knowledge creation and management through the analysis of existing data from an organization or business.

From the point of view of information technology, we can say that BI is a set of methodologies, applications and technologies that allow a business to the group and transform the data obtained from structured information systems to do analysis and information generation and improving the process decision-making of the business. It covers both current understanding of the functioning of the business as well as an anticipation of future events, in order to provide a body of knowledge to support business decisions.

Referring to business intelligence, we can differentiate the concepts of data, information and knowledge. Data is something that is vague, for example, the number 10, while the information is more accurate, such as April sales were 10. Finally, knowledge is obtained by analyzing the information.

Data are the minimum semantic unit and are the primary elements of information. These alone are irrelevant to the decision-making process. A phone number or a name of a person are examples of data.

The data can come from external or internal company sources, can be objective or subjective, qualitative or quantitative.

Moreover, the information can be defined as a set of processed data, which are relevant and have a purpose and context. The information is useful for decision-making, as it allows reducing uncertainty. The data is transformed into information to add value.

The information is capable of changing the way the receiver perceives something, impacting on their value judgments and behaviors.

Information = Data + Context (value added) + Utility (reduce uncertainty)

Knowledge can be defined as a mixture of experience, values, information and know-how, that form a framework to incorporate new experiences. The knowledge derived from the information and information from data. In order that information becomes knowledge is necessary to perform actions such as:

· Comparison with other elements.

· Prediction of consequences.

· Searching for connections.

· Talk with other carriers of information.

By gaining knowledge of the business once the information is captured from all areas in the business, you can set strategies and define what are the strengths and weaknesses of the business.

Business Intelligence is the broader concept of the use of intelligence in organizations. This has emerged from the contributions of the various areas of information such as market intelligence, competitive intelligence and business intelligence.

Market Intelligence corresponds to the strategic management discipline within companies that allow a more deeply know of the market and the company’s performance within it, through a constant flow of information.

Competitive Intelligence is defined as the process of collecting and analyzing information on the activities of competitors, so as to support the achievement of the goals of the business. Through a continuous flow of information, allows a business to know what the competitors are doing in the commercial, financial, and organizational aspects.

Finally, Business Intelligence refers to the set of tools to extract business experience. A set of systems to delineate dynamic customer base, such as sales trends, niche value, customer churn, profitability segments.

Intelligence tools are based on the use of information systems that bring together data from production processes, information relating to the business and economic data.

Using the techniques to extract, transform and load (ETL), data extracts from different sources, are purified and prepared for a load them into a data repository.

This toolkit has the following features:

• Access to information. The data are the primary source of this process. Systems have to ensure user access to data regardless of the source of these.

• Support the decision making process. Beyond the presentation of information, users need access to analysis tools, and select the data that interest them.

• Orientation to the end user. Independent expertise of users, these systems, must provide facilities that allow users to use these tools.

Business intelligence acts as a strategic factor for a business to build competitive advantage, by providing privileged information to respond to business problems: entering new markets, product promotions or offers, eliminating islands of information, control finances, cost optimization, production planning, customer profiling analysis, profitability of a particular product.

The main business intelligence products that exist in the market are:

• Balanced Scorecards (BSC) are tools to establish and monitor the objectives of the business and its different areas or units.

• Systems Decision Support (DSS) corresponds to interactive information systems that help companies make decisions, using data and models to solve unstructured or semi-structured decision. Supports decision making by generating a systematic evaluation of different alternatives or scenarios for decision.

• Executive Information Systems (EIS), are systems that provide top executives easy access to internal and external information that is relevant to their critical success factors. The Executive Information Systems support the decision making process of senior executives of an organization, presenting relevant information and using visual aids and easy to interpret, in order to keep them informed.

In reference to the origin of the data, existing components are: Datamart and Datawarehouse.

A Datamart is a departmental database, especially in storing the data that is specific to the business area. It is characterized by having an optimal data structure, to analyze information from all perspectives that affect the department.

Moreover, a data warehouse is a corporate database, characterized by integrating and debug information from one or more sources in order to allow analysis from many perspectives.

On the other hand, a Business Intelligence solution establishes a cycle from the following activities:

• Observe: what happens?

• Understand: Why is it?

• Predict: what will happen?

• Collaborate: what actions you should take the team?

• Decide: which way forward?

Why is it so important Business Intelligence?

For a business to be successful, it is very important the ability to make accurate and quick business decisions. Traditional information systems tend to be inflexible structures, making it difficult to adapt to the data capture processes of the business, and rapid generation of information for decision-making.

To overcome the limitations of these systems, business intelligence relies on a set of tools that facilitate the processes of extraction, purification, analysis and storage of data, with appropriate speed in order to support the decision making process of the business.

We cannot say that BI products are better than traditional applications, but they are developed for a different purpose, and therefore are more efficient for the decision-making process.

Business Intelligence solutions enable companies to:

• Process requirements quickly, intelligently and efficiently.

• Respond quickly and efficiently to changing conditions affecting the company.

• Establish information as the main asset of the business.

• Transform business data in intuitive graphical reports that can be analyzed quickly and easily.

Intelligence is the Key to Success. The Business Intelligence systems are now available to everyone. The well-designed BI applications can offer employees the ability to make better business decisions quickly, understand the various “information assets” in their business and how they interact.

We conclude that the key to thriving in a competitive marketplace is staying ahead of the competition. Making sound business decisions based on accurate and current information takes more than intuition. A Business Intelligence system thus becomes a determining factor for the success of the business.

Business Intelligence

1. Companies are aggressively moving to computerized support of their organizations. Can you list at least 2 of the factors driving this move?

• Speed and efficiency.

• Legibility and accuracy.

• Self-sufficiency.

• Cheaper research and development.

2. The definition of Business Intelligence (BI) is:

BI is an umbrella term that combines architecture, tools, databases, analytical tools, applications and methodologies.

What does “umbrella” term mean?

The definition of Business Intelligence (BI) encompasses various software applications used to analyze an organization’s raw data. The discipline entails many related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting

3. Sometime we say that the term Business Intelligence (BI) is “context free”. What does this mean?

The term business intelligence is “context free” in the sense that the expression means different things to different people. For this reason, we have seen researchers advancing different definitions for business intelligence.

4. Describe what a data warehouse is and how it might differ from a traditional database used for transaction processing.

A data warehouse is a central repository for corporate data and information that an organization derives transaction data, operational systems and external data sources. Although these two may look like they are similar, they exhibit several differences with regard to usage pattern, architecture as well as technology. A traditional database is based on operational processing while a data warehouse is based on informational processing.

A data warehouse focuses on storage, filtering, retrieval and analysis of voluminous information.

A traditional database is used for day to day operations while a data warehouse is used for long-term informational requirements.

5. What is the difference between a data warehouse and a data mart?

A data mart is a subset of a data warehouse that relates to specific business line. Data marts are managed by a specific department within an organization. On the other hand, a data warehouse involves multiple subject areas and assembles detailed information from multiple source systems.

6. What is meant by “Big Data”?

Big data refers to a huge volume of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data from which viable information can be extracted. This kind of data is so voluminous that it cannot be processed using outmoded database and software techniques. Big data helps organizations to improve their operations and be in a position to make quick and smart decisions.

7. Data mining methods are divided into supervised and unsupervised methods. What are these and how are they different?

Supervised data mining method has to do with the presentation of fully labeled data to a machine learning algorithm. On the other hand, unsupervised data mining methods conduct clustering. Data instances are divided into a number of groups.

Unsupervised data mining methods do not put emphasis on predetermined attributes. Moreover, it does not predict a target value. Instead, unsupervised data mining finds hidden structure and relation among data.

Supervised data mining methods are appropriate when there is a specific target value that I to be used to predict about data. The targets can have two or more possible outcomes, or even be a continuous numeric value.

Supervised data mining methods the classes are known in advance while in the other the groups or classes are not known in advance. In supervised data mining methods, data is assigned to be known before computation but in unsupervised learning Datasets are assigned to segments, without the clusters being known.

8. When we consider KPI’s (key performance indicators) we distinguish between driver KPI’s and outcome KPI’s. What is the difference between the two (give a couple of examples of each)

Key performance indicators provide a framework on which organizations can value their progress. Outcome KPIs which are also referred to as lagging indicators measure the output of previous activities. On the other hand, driver KPIs/leading indicators measure the activities that have a significant on outcome KPIs. Driver KPIs have a significant effect on outcome KPIs, but the reverse is not necessarily true.

9. A BSC (balanced scorecard) approach for BPM (business process management) is well-know and widely-used. Describe the strengths of a BSC approach.

BPM entails activities

BPM involves activities like automation, remodeling, monitoring, and analyzing and improving business processes.

Cost efficiency

This is one of the most palpable benefits of BPM approach. It cuts down on costs and increases revenue. BPM adds crucial value in the long run by allowing businesses to compete globally. BPM technology equips a business to switch gears and respond to changing business environment appropriately.

Agility

Change is inevitable in business and a business must be ready to undergo sudden changes at any time. BPM accords a business the flexibility of making changes at minimal costs.

Improved productivity

BPM automates several elements within regular workflows. Process improvements such as eliminations of drawbacks, elimination of redundant steps, and introduction of parallel processing are achieved through BPM. These process improvements allow employees to focus on other important activities of their business since the core support functions would have been handled.

Better visibility

Basically, BPM uses advanced software programs to facilitate the automation process. These programs enable process owners to keep abreast of their performance. Apart from guaranteeing transparency, BPM keep track of how processes work without the need of monitoring techniques and extensive labor.

10. A closed-loop process is often used to optimize business performance. Briefly describe what a closed-loop process means.

A closed-loop process, also referred to as feedback control system is a management system that promotes a well-organized base of preferred outcomes and system feedback. This process is designed to achieve and maintain the desired output in comparison with the actual condition.