What is Business Intelligence (BI/BW)?

Business Intelligence is transforming the data that a business stores in it’s database, and making it useful.

Typical data that is tranformed is transactional data such as sales data.  For a business each individual sales data is not very useful but aggregating this data (summerising the data) can yield some powerful results for business decision makers.  For example, analysing individual sales data for the 1st Quarter of 2013 would not be very useful but if this sales data was summerised, it would show the total sales for the period and becomes even more powerful it can be compared to the 2nd Quarter of 2013.  It turn for decision makers it can become a powerful tool to increase sales, create forecasts and develop new business strategies.

Business Intelligence uses large amounts of data and can be cumbersome without the IT tools that are used to transform the data.  The transactional data that BI uses can come from different sources such as transactional database such as Oracle Databases or MS SQL Servers.  The data then undergoes an ETL process known as Extract. Transform and Load. 

Extract is the process of extracting the data from the source.  Transform is changing the data into an appropiate format to store in the Data Warehouse.  The Data Warehouse is the storage for the data used in BI, which is data prepared for reporting.


Data stored after the ETL process, is stored in the Data Warehouse.  This is the data that is analysed and presented in Reports, ready for decision makers to interpret.

The commonly used software are SAP BI and Microsoft BI.

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