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Business Intelligence

What is business intelligence? (bi)

Business intelligence usually refers to computer software and other tools that collect all sorts of complex business data and condense it into reports. The collected data may focus on a specific department, or give an overall view of the company's status. Large corporations that have huge amounts of data to process, are most likely to benefit significantly from business intelligence, though smaller concerns use it as well.

Business intelligence may help a company identify its most profitable customers, trouble spots within its organization, or its return on investment for certain products. Although a companywide business intelligence system is complex, costly and time-consuming to establish, when implemented and used correctly, its benefits can be significant.

Having BI will assist your company in the following ways

Fact-Based Decisions

Once a company-wide business intelligence system is in place, management can see detailed, current data on all aspects of the business -- financial data, production data, customer data. They can read reports that synthesize this information in pre-determined ways, such as current return on investment reports for individual products or product lines. This information helps management make fact-based decisions, such as which products to concentrate on and which ones to discontinue.

Improves Sales and Negotiations

A business intelligence system can be a valuable asset to a company's sales force because it provides access to up-to-the-minute reports that identify sales trends, product improvements or additions, current customer preferences and unexplored markets. Detailed and current data is also a valuable backup to negotiations with suppliers or other vendors.

Eliminates Waste

A business intelligence system can point out areas of waste or loss that may have previously gone unnoticed in a large organization. Since a companywide business intelligence system works as a single, unified whole, it can analyse transactions between subsidiaries and departments to identify areas of overlap or inefficiency. According to the CIO website, in 2000 "with the help of [business intelligence] tools, Toyota realized it had been double-paying its shippers to the tune of $812,000."

Identifies Opportunities

Business intelligence can help a company assess its own capabilities; compare its relative strengths and weaknesses against its competitors; identify trends and market conditions; and respond quickly to change -- all to gain a competitive advantage, according to the Journal of Theoretical and Applied Information Technology. It helps decision makers act swiftly and correctly in response to opportunities; helps the company identify its most profitable customers, as well as potentially profitable customers; and assess the reasons for customer dissatisfaction before it begins to cost them sales.