Business Intelligence, or BI, is a touchy subject. More and more people are using it, and only a few understand its true meaning. Business Intelligence software, tools, and systems are highly popular and demanded by the public, with an interest in business analytics and Business Intelligence solutions growing exponentially each and every year.

Why? Let’s find out in our new article.

Data Visualization VS Business Intelligence

There are a lot of overlapping or at a first glance similar terms going around in the Analytics & Marketing worlds, and Data Visualization and Business Intelligence are two of them forming such an often confused pair exactly.

So what is the difference between the two and how are they similar? Let’s look at our beautiful chart below.

You see, Data Visualization and Business Intelligence both overlap at Data Science, meaning they are both built on a foundation of reliable, comprehensive, accurate data. And that’s it. Data Science is the only thing connecting two terms, where at all other aspects Data Visualization and Business Intelligence are very different analytical instruments.  

Data Visualization is a method of turning data into visual form like line graphs, bar, pie and spider charts, heat maps etc, which you can learn about in detail in our fresh What is Data Visualization? article here. 

Business Intelligence tool is, on the other hand, in a common understanding, a complex software that tracks, collects, and analyzes all important data within one company in order to present meaningful insights. 

What is Business Intelligence (BI)?

You will find a loooot of Business Intelligence definitions online on what it supposedly is, but to be honest, most of them are so vague no matter how intensely you study you won’t come closer to understanding what it actually is.  

Most of the sources will claim Business Intelligence is a set of strategies and techniques employed by progressive businesses for the purpose of data analysis and event-based decision-making. 

Did it make it any clearer? Of course, not! 

So what is Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence is a technology that collects all data within one enterprise into a single Data Warehouse, analyzes tracked data and offers insights into improving that enterprise’s performance. 

Advantages of Business Intelligence

Here are the key advantages of utilizing data generated by a Business Intelligence solution:

  • Boosts company productivity
  • Increases long-term sales 
  • Pinpoints problem areas
  • Simplifies the process of decision-making
  • Offers imperative business predictions

Here’s a great Business Intelligence example. Say you have a walk-in and an online store for a light fixture business. That means you own a physical warehouse, an accounting system for all your lightbulbs and chandeliers, and a set of on-site and online workers who maintain the flow of your business. 

Let’s say you want to open a new branch in a nearby region. How many vans will you have to purchase? How many people will have to be hired based on your existing experience? Can you use your current warehouse or do you absolutely need to expand into an additional one?

Now picture all the data departments related to such business decisions: employee salaries, logistics, cash flow and online transaction maintenance, web user behaviour, marketing campaigns etc –  a lot of very heterogeneous information to account for, isn’t it?

Combining apples with oranges to find out how much rainfall your crops require for a fertile harvest is not an easy task for any human, but – thank you, future – it is quite an easy task for a Business Intelligence analytics solution. Business Intelligence system allows you to answer all of the above questions by collecting and analyzing data on all of the business operations your business undergoes in a single Data Warehouse. Awesome, right? 

How are Business Intelligence systems implemented?

So you got really inspired about the idea of implementing business analytics and Business Intelligence solutions, and now wondering – where do I start? 

To give you an idea of where to begin, we created a step-by-step list of Business Intelligence system implementation:

1. Choose a Business Intelligence type

Here’s the thing. Even though there’s more than enough info out there in regards to Business Intelligence systems, there are not so many BI solutions you can choose from. Most of them are industry-based, and if you are a large enterprise with sensitive information and enough resources you can choose to build your own custom Business Intelligence system, or if you are smaller choose one of the existing pre-built BI reporting tools.

So the first step is to choose between an existing Business Intelligence software or a custom Business Intelligence solution. How? 

Start by assessing which data you need in order to enhance your business operations and which tasks should it resolve. Without establishing a clear end goal behind implementing Business Intelligence solutions it will be hard to arrive at the exact BI system you want. 

2. Form a Business Intelligence team

Business Intelligence system is a serious business (wink-wink 😉) and requires a team of experts who can and will support its work and maintenance. 

That means you will have to either hire a new dedicated BI solutions team with data analysists, BI head and BI engineer, or form it out staff you already have.

3. Create a Business Intelligence strategy

Any complex product requires a development strategy or roadmap, and this is the perfect step to start considering which company data is actually required for the flow of your Business Intelligence system, what kind of dashboard do you need, and which reporting type you prefer – traditional or self-serving BI.

4. Setup Data Warehouse

Warehouses are at the heart of any Business Intelligence system. They act as a connector between your data sources and your below-mentioned ETL systems on the back-end and your dashboards on the front-end. 

Data Warehouse is exactly what allows BI tools to contain such heterogeneous data from different sources and present it all in a single convenient dashboard interface.

5. Configure data integration tools

Okay, so here’s the deal – having data sources connected to your Data Warehouse is not enough for a functioning BI system. You will need to use additional ETL tools or so-called data integration tools, that will Extract, Transform and Load your data.  

Your ETL tools will extract and process your raw data from the original data sources and only then will forward it to a data warehouse.  

6. Develop BI Dashboards

Now is exactly the right time to go back to step 3 of creating a Business Intelligence strategy and taking a closer look at it once over again. 

The course of developing your Business Intelligence dashboards deeply depends on who will access them, for what purposes and what kind of reports will you be needing.

7. Train your employees

Now that all your Business Intelligence systems are set up and in place, it’s time to instruct all the parties involved on how to use it.

You can conduct a single training session for all employees – welcoming them to an idea of BI and how their daily duties will interact with it from now in, or different-grade sessions depending on the staff’s levels of access and usage.  

Examples of Business Intelligence tools & systems 

Now that we covered what is Business Intelligence, its advantages and how to implement it, let’s look at the what are Business Intelligence tools in real life. 

To help you choose a ready-to-wear solution we offer a BI tools list with Business Intelligence system examples: 

Conclusion

With so much info on Business intelligence, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – Don’t be. If you made a decision to step into a new data era and employ a Business Intelligence solution, do this.

Start with a Data Visualization software and then refine the solution to a comprehensive full-fledged Business Intelligence. For example, you can begin now by selecting a Business Intelligence tool like Tableau, connect your advertising sources, Goggle Analytics and so on and while using it gradually add new data sources and structure all the information you need. 

And when you need help with setting up your newly-chosen BI system, don’t hesitate to contact us – we love helping companies become data-driven 😉