What is Business Intelligence?

In today’s increasingly commercialized world, it is important that everyone understands the concept of business intelligence and use this knowledge to better themselves both as consumers and producers. Business intelligence plays an integral role in how the commercial world is operated.

What is business intelligence

Business intelligence is the ability to identify, analyse and effectively respond to both quantitative and qualitative elements of businesses. Business intelligence also refers to computer applications used to gather, store and analyze business data. The contrast in definitions came about as the former refers to humans doing the work while the latter reflects the presence of computers in the process.

Business intelligence had its beginnings in the 1900s and in 1996 the Gartner Group asserted that:

By 2000, some form of freely flowing information where everyone is in charge will begin to grow in productive industries, with business intelligence and the tools used, available to everyone who caters to use them. They assert that the key to mantaining market share and getting high profits is to stay ahead of the competition at all costs. But, it takes more than common sense to get ahead of the competition and make sound business decicions. It takes good character and good business skills. ‘Data analysis, reporting, and query tools can help business users wade through a sea of data to synthesize valuable information from it – today these tools collectively fall into a category called ‘Business Intelligence’ (http://searchdatamanagement.techtarget.com/definition/business-intelligence).

Before this, there were assertions that business intelligence has its theoretical genesis. In a 1958 article, IBM researcher Hans Peter Luhn uhas referred to the term business intelligence. He defined intelligence as: “the ability to apprehend the interrelationships of presented facts in such a way as to guide action towards a desired goal.”

Business Inteligence as we understand it today eveolved in the 1950s and had its development until the 1980s with what was called decision supprt systems (DSS). DSS started with the computer-aided models made to make easirt, the process of planning and coordinating by firms.. Arising from DSS, data warehouses, Executive Information Systems, OLAP and eventually business intelligence came to the fore around the mid 1980s.

Howard Dresner (later a Gartner Group analyst) postulated that “business intelligence” as an umbrella term to describe “concepts and methods to improve business decision making by using fact-based support systems.” It was not until the late 1990s that this usage was widespread. This widespread usage became accepted and generic as what is used to explain what is business intelligence.

Business intelligence to the average person and how to identify it

One first needs to have an aptitude and willingness to read especially the ‘fine print’. Read about companies from business journals, the local newspaper or even the Internet. Sit through a shareholders meeting. After researching businesses, be sure to compare what each business is about and if you are a business owner, try and decipher what aspects of the business you would want to emulate, change or invent when applied to your own business. Know the strengths and weaknesses of firms.

A thorough understanding of what is business intelligence is important if effective business decisions are to be made.

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