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Business intelligence (BI) is a set of theories, methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information for business purposes. BI can handle large amounts of information to help identify and develop new opportunities. Making use of new opportunities and implementing an effective strategy can provide a competitive market advantage and long-term stability.

BI technologies provide historical, current and predictive views of business operations. Common functions of business intelligence technologies are reportingonline analytical processinganalyticsdata miningprocess miningcomplex event processingbusiness performance managementbenchmarking, text miningpredictive analytics and prescriptive analytics.

Some Benefits to use a BI

  • Provides the information needed to drive faster, better decisions. IT managers deploying BI Server can leverage previous investments, integrate BI quickly into existing environments and provide the information needed to drive the business forward as quickly as possible. This, with the added benefit of freeing resources from tedious tasks to focus on more strategic projects, ensures that IT is a driving force behind their organization’s success.
  • Increases data consistency, enables data-driven decisions and streamlines administration. Through centrally managed data, security and shared metadata, BI Server delivers consistent representation and control of information by providing reliable results that can be easily traced back to the source. This alleviates the repetitive task of validating which reports or results are correct. In addition, integration with Microsoft Office allows IT to retake control of ad hoc Excel use without impeding users’ desire for this familiar environment.
  • Enables vendor consolidation and standardization with a comprehensive BI solution. BI Server ensures that IT has the breadth of BI capabilities to meet the needs of every type of user, including managers looking for dashboards, groups that want to view or build reports on the Web, analysts or power users who need advanced data exploration, and IT staff who need to deploy, manage, control and maintain the entire solution.

Though the term business intelligence is sometimes a synonym for competitive intelligence (because they both support decision making), BI uses technologies, processes, and applications to analyze mostly internal, structured data and business processes while competitive intelligence gathers, analyzes and disseminates information with a topical focus on company competitors. If understood broadly, business intelligence can include the subset of competitive intelligence.