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What is “business intelligence”? Is it data?

Not really… because data alone falls short when enabling and facilitating intelligent and informed business decisions. Systems have presented “data” for years. The problem has been accessing the data and displaying it in an intuitive and actionable format. For many years, the standard answer from software vendors when asked if a certain report was available has been, “The data is in the system. You can easily write a query or a report to view the data in the way that you want to see it.” That answer is no longer acceptable

Businesses don’t want to be inundated with volumes of data. Business leaders want to have selective, actionable information “pushed” to them when changes in performance metrics dictate a decision or a change in direction. As the term implies, Business Intelligence (BI) is the organization and presentation of truly relevant information in a highly intuitive format that provides insight to business processes and performance that would not have been easy to obtain otherwise. Today’ BI capabilities even go one step further than simply the presentation of actionable data, but they also categorize and classify the information as to severity and impact, making it easier to prioritize areas of opportunity and potential adjustment. Key performance Indicator (KPI) dashboards, “Heat Maps”, and interruptive warnings, alerts, and alarms today serve as “Early Warning Systems” for management and leadership, enabling better, more timely decisions that help companies head off performance degradation before it becomes severe. Business Intelligence today serves as a preventative protocol that keeps operations in line and “out of the weeds” rather than providing a course of corrective action after failure has occurred.

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