The combination of the words business and intelligence were first used by H. P. Luhn in an article entitled a”A Business Intelligence System” published by an IBM research journal in 1958. This phrase has become condensed even further to today’s “BI”. Perhaps this is also in response to Twitter’s impact on our language. (#BI).
The evolution of Business Intelligence Products continues today with a wide variety of options to choose from. As with any business decisions, several factors should be examined as you make this choice:
- Cost – an obvious determinant of any project, there are many costing options to suit your needs. Excel does a fairly good job at producing basic reports, and in the past several years, Microsoft has enhanced these capabilities with their Power BI product which also has a free version. Other products also offer free versions with limited capabilities, while the more robust systems have cost that are commensurate with their functionality.
- Current Data Availability – What are the sources of your data? Does this data reside in centralized data warehouse, or is the data contained in disparate applications throughout the organization.
- Deployment – Is the product cloud based or installed locally? This also speaks to the resources available within your organization to implement and support the product.
- End Users – Within your organization, who will utilize the information generated from this system? What specific visualizations are required? Again, there are a myriad of choices, but most common are dashboards, KPI’s and Predictive Analytics.
- Complexity – Within the realm of BI there are systems that can provide a wealth of information giving you unsurpassed insight into both the financial and operational aspects of your organization. In addition to the raw costs of this information, there are hidden costs that may detract from this new found tool.
- Implementation and training costs – how long and how much?.
- Staffing levels and capabilities – Is current staff available and are they capable of using this system?
- Reliance on Results – Test for reasonableness when interpreting results.
To assist in analyzing how your organization can maximize the capabilities of these systems for your organization, check out the following sites for product reviews and features:
There are also some basic tips for things to avoid in this process.
Although not all encompassing, hopefully this brief synopsis will provide a better insight into an evolving and complex topic known as Business Intelligence.