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What Is Business Intelligence?

BI is a combination of practices, data and tools that produce information that drives optimal decisions

From Wikipedia we read that:  "Business intelligence (BI) can be described as a set of techniques and tools for the acquisition and transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes".

Well, sure, we are ok with that. But we would underscore that Business Intelligence is not a simple tool or even a collection of tools. It is not a person or even a collection of people. It is an outcome of a well thought out, well led, well fed system that produces actionable information. Business intelligence is both art and science and in a business context exists to help achieve objectives by optimizing actions.

BI can be used to support a wide range of business decisions ranging from operational to strategic. Basic operating decisions include product positioning or pricing. Strategic business decisions include priorities, goals and directions at the broadest level. In all cases, BI is most effective when it combines data derived from the market in which a company operates (external data) with data from company sources internal to the business such as financial and operations data (internal data). When combined, external and internal data can provide a more complete picture which, in effect, creates an "intelligence" that cannot be derived by any singular set of data. 

BI tools empower organizations to gain insight into new markets, assess demand and suitability of products and services for different market segments and gauge the impact of marketing efforts.  BI also helps executives make decisions regarding business models, investments, M&A and divestiture.

Business intelligence tools are also critically important in countering fraud, mitigating cybersecurity risks and preventing malicious behavior against the organization.

These are the many reasons we started the Business Intelligence List. We are here to capture, curate and review every major BI technology, process and concept and help organizations more rapidly find the right tool for the tasks they seek to tackle.

For more on business intelligence market research see our strategy guide.

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