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Categories Or Types Of Business Intelligence

Tim Williams's Profile
I hear so much about Business Intelligence (BI) solutions. What are the major categories and where is BI most valuable?


Sam Wholley
Title: Consultant
Company: Frank, Rimerman + Co. LLP
(Consultant, Frank, Rimerman + Co. LLP) |

Tim, it's a good observation that there is significant 'congestion' in the BI space. Business Intelligence is a very broad term, that can encompass things as straightforward as reporting, as unique as data visualization, and as complex as predictive analytics. At its core, BI is the process of turning data into relevant and useful information to make business decisions.

Some indicators of a need for more business intelligence include:

* You have segments of your business that you think of as 'black boxes' and want to discern and manage metrics for them;
* You have areas of business with eroding profitability and want to know why;
* You have a sense that separate business segments are related, but don't know why and want to prove (or disprove) your theory;
* There is external data that would help enhance your decision-making process, but it is synthesized in your head at the moment;
* You feel that it takes too long to make decisions, that decisions are sometimes unsupported, or the decisions are ill-advised.

You asked aboutcategories - there are a number of major software packages that all excel at solving particular issues. The toughest challenge is defining and collecting the *right* atomic data necessary to aggregate and report on. From there, you have some leeway in either developing a custom solution using packages (SQL Server (SSIS, SSRS), SharePoint, open source tools) or implementing a packaged system (Cognos, Microsoft BI, SAS, etc.).

I realize this is fairly broad, but it all goes back to your objective and the decisions needing to be made. Feel free to contact me if you would like to get into greater granularity, and good luck with your assessment process.

Alexander Haislip
Title: Author
Company: Independent
(Author, Independent) |

Hi Tim, you might check out this whitepaper, which has several case studies showing the value of BI and some things to think about for getting your money's worth out of them:

Joanie Mann
Title: Principal Consultant
Company: Cooper Mann Consulting
LinkedIn Profile
(Principal Consultant, Cooper Mann Consulting) |

I'd suggest taking a look at iLumen, if for no other reason than to get an idea of what sort of benefit a good analytics solution can deliver. With the volume of data being generated, it's almost imperative to have a good analytical tool to help uncover anomalies, opportunities, etc.

Adam Jacobson
Title: President
Company: Red Three Consulting
(President, Red Three Consulting) |

As Sam pointed out, BI covers a huge range of topics. The value can be getting the right reports to tie out and to get you out of excel hell. It can be more strategic - finding out where you are really making money and where you're losing your shirt.his out.

Kim Hall
Title: Consultant
Company: HWG, Inc.
(Consultant, HWG, Inc.) |

In places where you have siloed (is that a word?) information that is more meaningful when combined with data in other systems (or other sources) and creates information (rather than data) that drives or influences business decisions or predicts future strategy. A lot of companies find these tools crucial in gathering data to create Key performance indicators (KPIs).

I have helped several companies pick BI tools for different purposes: Client reporting, management reporting, financial reporting and corporate performance management. By the way, I recommended different tools for different situations based on need, corporate culture and the IT environment.

Patrick Slattery
Title: Managing Director
Company: Canopach
(Managing Director, Canopach) |

My apologies for what appears to be a very belated response. I picked up on this thread from a summary link on my Proformative main page, but it seems to me that Tim started the thread in September of 2010 and that Sam replied the day after. Other replies are more current than that.

Not to pile on, but my experience has been that understanding targets, performance measures and underlying business drivers is the fundamental concern. While the term Business Intelligence (BI) covers a lot of ground, many of those tools help to support development of insights and decisions based on reaching target, improving performance and understanding drivers. I would suggest considering your planning and performance management needs to then focus the set of tools you would consider.

Hope that helps. Thanks for considering my perspective.

All the best,
Patrick Slattery

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