What is Business Intelligence?

Business intelligence (BI) is the process of transforming data into actionable insights that help a company make strategic and tactical decisions.

BI tools access and analyse data sets, then display the results in the form of reports, summaries, dashboards, graphs, charts, and maps, providing users with accurate intelligence about the state of the business.

The term “business intelligence” is often used to describe a collection of resources that provide fast, easy-to-understand access to data-driven insights about an organization’s current state.


Business intelligence examples

Business intelligence relies mostly on reporting, and the dashboard is probably the most well-known BI tool. Dashboards are web-based software programs that automatically compile available data into charts and graphs that depict the company’s current state.

By reducing the time and effort taken to search for knowledge, BI helps people to analyze data to understand patterns and derive insights.

By streamlining the effort required to search for, merge, and query the data required to make sound business decisions, BI allows people to analyze data to understand patterns and draw insights.

The future applications of business intelligence (BI) go beyond the traditional business success metrics of increased revenue and lower costs.

Business intelligence is descriptive, telling you what is happening now and what happened in the past to get us to that state. 

BI aims to deliver straightforward snapshots of the current situation to business managers. 

Self-service BI tools:

Allow companies to make internal data reports accessible to managers and other non-technical employees.

Self-service BI benefits include dashboards and user interfaces with pull-down menus and intuitive drill-down points that enable users to quickly locate and turn data.

Enable organizations to make the company’s internal data reports available to managers and other non-technical staff.

Self-service BI has several drawbacks: by allowing your business users to become ad hoc data engineers, you risk producing a jumble of metrics that differ by department, running into data protection issues, and even racking up large licensing or SaaS bills if you don’t have centralized control over the tool rollout.

Business intelligence software and systems

  • Dashboards
  • Visualizations
  • Reporting
  • Data mining
  • ETL (extract-transfer-load —tools that import data from one data store into another)
  • OLAP (online analytical processing)

The most famous are dashboards and visualizations, which include fast and easy-to-understand data summaries, which are at the heart of BI’s value proposition.

Some of the major BI players include:

  • Tableau, a self-service analytics platform provides data visualization and can integrate with a range of data sources.
  • Splunk, a “guided analytics platform” capable of providing enterprise-grade business intelligence and data analytics.
  • Alteryx, which blends analytics from a range of sources to simplify workflows as well as provide a wealth of BI insights.
  • Qlik, which is grounded in data visualization, BI, and analytics, providing an extensive, scalable BI platform.
  • Domo, a cloud-based platform that offers business intelligence tools tailored to various industries (such as financial services, health care, manufacturing, and education) and roles (including CEOs, sales, BI professionals, and IT workers)
  • Dundas BI, used for creating dashboards and scorecards.
  • Google Data Studio, a supercharged version of the familiar Google Analytics offering
  • Einstein Analytics, Salesforce.com’s attempt to improve BI with AI.
  • Birst, a cloud-based service in which multiple instances of the BI software share a common data backend.

Business Intelligence Tools Features & Capabilities

  • BI Platform Type
  • Supported Data Sources
  • Standard Reporting
  • Ad-Hoc Reporting
  • Report Output and Scheduling
  • Data Discovery and Visualization
  • Access Control and Security
  • Mobile Capabilities
  • APIs / Embedding.


Pratt, M.K. (2017). What is BI? Business intelligence strategies and solutions. [online] CIO. Available at: https://www.cio.com/article/2439504/business-intelligence-definition-and-solutions.html  [Accessed 26 Mar. 2021].

www.youtube.com. (n.d.). What is Business Intelligence (BI) and Why is it Important? [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtCoEw3Ykg [Accessed 26 Mar. 2021].

https://yourfreetemplates.com/business-intelligence-infographic/ [Accessed 26 Mar. 2021].

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