Business Intelligence [BI] Tools
Business intelligence tools are software designed to integrate
business intelligence [BI] into business processes using analysis,
and at-a-glance presentation of performance data.
There are four key requisites of good business intelligence tools:
- the information delivered is reliable
- it is in a format that can readily be utilized by the user
- is delivered within the users current environment
- is provided fast enough to support decision making
While some business intelligence tools include ETL functionality,
ETL tools are generally not considered business intelligence tools.
Like most technology, there is a continuum of business intelligence
- MS Excel - excel is a cheap, simple reporting
tool capable of processing algorithms too complex for most reporting
tools. For this reason, most OLAP and reporting tools have Excel
Export functions to provide for tasks requiring more complex analysis
- Reporting Tools - may be either commercial
reporting tools or custom built. Most provide some flexibility
enabling each user to create, schedule, and run their own reports.
Business operations reporting and dashboard are the most common
applications for a reporting tool. Many reporting tools are now
web-based, such as Microsoft Reporting
- OLAP - OLAP
tools are a more advanced BI tool, used to look at data from
- Data Mining - Data mining tools are generally
only used by very specialized users. They are used to identify
correlation among different factors.
BI technology includes:
- a secure computer system which can specify different levels
of user access to the data warehouse
- sufficient data capacity
- data management plan - updates, retention, standards
- peformance QA - benchmarks and performance targets for the system.
- analysis tools
Business intelligence software tools gather and analyze large quantities
of unstructured data, such as production metrics, sales statistics,
attendance reports, and customer attrition figures.
To date, BI vendors have typically developed Business intelligence
systems to suit the demands of different sectors [e.g., retail companies,
financial services companies, etc.]. This means that not all tools
work harmoniously together.
Types of Business Intelligence Tools
There are many types of business intelligence tools, each one serving
a particular function, and supporting decisions in particular roles
in the organisation.
BI applications differ according to their intended use.
Analyze performance, projects, or internal operations, such as
AQL - Associative Query Logic
- Business Activity Monitoring
- Business Performance Measurement
and Management Dashboards
- Business Planning
- Business Process Re-engineering
- Competitive Analysis
- User/End-user Query and Reporting
- Executive Information Systems [EIS]
- Supply Chain Management/Demand Chain Management
- Finance and Budgeting
mining [DM], Data Farming, and Data
- Decision Support Systems [DSS] and Forecasting
- Document warehouses and Document Management
- Knowledge Management
- Mapping, Information visualization, and Dashboarding;
- Management Information Systems [MIS]
- Geographic Information Systems [GIS]
- Trend Analysis
- Software as a service [SaaS] - an On Demand solution hosted
for customers by a provider
- Online analytical processing
[OLAP] and multi-dimensional analysis - often called "Analytics"
[based on the "hypercube" or "cube"]
- Real time business intelligence
- Statistics and Technical Data Analysis
- Web Mining, Text mining
- Systems Intelligence
Other BI applications are used to analyze or manage the "human"
side of businesses, such as Customer Relationship Management [CRM]
and Marketing tools and Human Resources applications. Web Personalization
is also now being driven by BI tools.
For simplicity, these tools may be grouped into four main categories:
- Executive Dashboards
- OLAP Decision Support
- Data Mining Tools
- Business Performance Management [BPM]
Executive Dashboards are known by many names, including:
- Digital Dashboards
- Business Intelligence Dashboards
- Enterprise Dashboards
Regardless of the name, these reporting tools are visual summaries
of business data to provide an 'at-a-glance' understanding of current
business conditions. They incorporate a number of metrics and Key
Performance Indicators [KPIs]. Executive dashboards have become
a very popular BI tool that in the last few years. More
on Executive Dashboards
Online Analytical Processing, commonly known as OLAP [including
HOLAP, ROLAP and MOLAP] provide a decision support capability and
executive information system to support interactive analysis of
large amounts of data from many perspectives.
OLAP reporting software generates aggregated views of data to
keep the management informed about the state of their business.
Data mining is the extraction of consumer information from a database
using software that is capable of isolating and identifying previously
unknown patterns or trends in large amounts of data. Data mining
tools are therefore designed to store and analyze large volumes
Different data mining techniques reveal different types of patterns.
Some techniques are based on Statistical methods [particularly Business
statistics] and very advanced means of analysing data use Neural
Business Performance Management [BPM]
BPM tools incorporate a degree of several of the above BI tools.
They generally integrate to business processes to provide real time
and delayed reporting of key business functions, such that when
performance declines, alerts are raised, and intervention can be
taken in a timely manner.
By reducing the number of BI tools in your organization you can
save money, have more confidence in and control over business data,
and provide business users with the information they need to do
their jobs well.
Research Paper: IDC Report - "Worldwide
Business Intelligence Tools 2006 Vendor Share" [Released
For Business Intelligence Tools
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