Business Intelligence (BI) software is a big group of computer software that lets your company get insights into its business operations and processes by means of data analytics and management. It presents actionable information that helps executives make informed and grounded decisions.
Business intelligence software includes a variety of methodologies and tools that collect and prepare data, run queries, create reports, visualize data etc. To perform these operations, BI software usually includes various components for data analysis such as pivot tables, charts, dashboards, spreadsheets etc.
Apart from transforming raw data into insightful information, business intelligence solutions have the following functions:
Data analysis for real-time decision making (including trend analysis, what-if analysis, data modeling etc.).
Providing dashboards and scorecards to monitor, manage, and measure performance and KPIs.
Data visualization (visual business intelligence).
Providing a collaboration platform for various departments.
Why every company needs a business intelligence solution.
Business intelligence solutions often seem to be too expensive, cumbersome and not worth integrating into business processes. However, there are several benefits that overshadow all their seeming disadvantages. The main benefits of using business intelligence systems are:
Accumulating important data in a single solution.
Accelerating and improving decision making.
Optimizing efficiency of the company’s business processes.
Analysing business competitors and and gaining competitive advantages.
Companies can also use intelligence systems to identify internal business problems that should be taken care of, as well as new market opportunities not yet used.
Though seen by many as expensive, in the long run business intelligence solutions help companies cut costs through using new business opportunities, improving internal business processes and allowing employees to analyze data without maintaining a staff of IT specialists.
However, there are several prerequisites for BI systems to be effective:
Choose the right approach to building your whole data warehousing. What is the best for one business can fail completely for another.
Your data has to be clean and accurate. Analysing inaccurate data won’t give any insight into your business. On the contrary, it will most certainly harm it.
Your end users need to have appropriate training to use the software effectively. Otherwise, important data can be lost or ignored in the process.
Define the KPIs you want to measure from the very beginning.
Choose the BI software type you need for your business goals, not what’s trendy.
Using OLAP in business intelligence
OLAP, or online analytical processing, is a function of business intelligence software that allows users to discover, extract, view and analyze the data they need from different points of view. Companies extensively use OLAP in their business intelligence processes as it provides opportunities for knowledge discovery, report generating, complex calculations, visual business intelligence, predictive types of analysis, planning, and budgeting.
The main advantages of using OLAP in business intelligence are: access to information divided among different systems your company uses, fast data aggregation and calculation, multidimensional data analysis, and rich reporting opportunities.
This explains why OLAP tools are so popular among BI specialists. One of such tools in Ranet OLAP that provides such opportunities as:
building interactive OLAP reports by dragging and dropping metadata from the cube
visualizing the data in charts and diagrams
performing complex types of predictive analysis and planning.