Business Intelligence Technologies Explained

One of Mark Twain’s characters once exclaimed, “There’s gold in them thar hills!” On a literal level, this quote could refer to the gold rush in which the promise of riches hiding just out of plain sight sparked a frenzy among miners hoping to cash in. On a figurative level, this quote can refer to any situation in which there’s an opportunity to discover and extract value.

Knowing there’s “gold” in the “hills” — or data in the enterprise data warehouse — is an exciting start. Only with the right tools can “miners” find these valuable resources and bring them to the surface. Someone prospecting for gold would be wise to carry along tools like a pan and pickaxe. Employees in the modern workplace seeking out data insights to help them make decisions need business intelligence (BI) tools to analyze data and uncover meaningful tidbits of information.

Here is an explanation on business intelligence technologies — what they are, how they work and why they’re so important.

What Are Business Intelligence Technologies?

Put simply, BI technologies support the collection, storage and analysis of data produced by enterprises.

As Investopedia notes, some examples of commonly used BI tech includes data mining and descriptive analytics. Data mining involves delving deep into data to find hidden trends and correlations; this process increasingly features artificial intelligence algorithms capable of detecting these patterns quickly. Descriptive analytics involve tools that can provide answers to the questions, “What happened?” or “What is happening right now?”

BI provides the infrastructure that allows users, like employees and customers, to ask questions of data and receive answers in easily digestible formats — like charts and dashboards.

Another way to think about it is that these tools help transform vast quantities of data originating from many different sources into insights people can actually understand and act upon.

Why Are BI Technologies So Important?

Without BI technologies capable of organizing and analyzing data, it would require extensive human power and time to uncover even the simplest of insights. As you can imagine, this would not be an effective way to make data-driven decisions. In fact, by the time data teams could finally extract insights, the decision could be well past — rendering the information basically useless.

This is precisely why the latest wave of BI tools aim to shorten the time to insight by connecting users to data insights in seconds or minutes. This fuels timely decision-making without having to sacrifice data insights due to time crunches.

BI technologies are also important because they empower individuals to conduct their own data searches rather than forcing them to submit requests to the data team and wait. The process of finding data insights is the same whether it’s a marketing manager trying to learn more about customer churn last quarter, an HR professional analyzing employee turnover rates within their organization or a physician in a hospital assessing patient risk levels. These tools provide the same expedient and flexible experience to all, empowering employees at every level to get the data they need.

BI technologies are a must-have for companies intent on extracting insights from stored data and turning them into formats usable for decision-making.

Before you can make a sound decision about the future, you need to know where you have stood in the past, where you currently stand and where you may stand soon based on what the data is saying. Harnessing BI technologies allows users to ask questions to better understand different aspects of performance. They can then incorporate these insights into educated decision-making pertaining to the future in the short and long terms.

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