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BI (business intelligence) is an umbrella term that means different things to different people. The main idea, despite the differences, is that BI enables business managers to make intelligent decisions -- it transform data to information (and knowledge) for improved decisions and actions. Quick examples of BI applications are: providing targeted information at the right place and time for competitive advantage, producing  information that is actionable (e.g., accurately predicting changes in weather conditions), improving processes for significant reduction of time and cost, and use of dashboards for graphical views of a wide range of opportunities in improving sales, customer satisfaction, and new business ventures. Government agencies are also using BI to offer better services in public health, public education, public safety and public welfare.
Key Characteristics  of a BI Service:
  • Focus is on "Intelligence" and not on Data 
  • Too much data confuses people and decision makers
  • Example:
    • Data = Most customers do not complain more than 3 times
    • Intelligence = customers typical leave a business after three times 
    • Action = Make sure that if a customer has complained twice, then her problem is solved.   
  • BI helps transform business data  to intelligence to help make decisions/actions
  • BI versus Decision Support Systems (DSS): BI is typical at executive level, DSS at middle level. They are similar but the audience/objective is different
Major Components of a BI System:
A BI service has four major components: a data warehouse, a collection of business analytics and mining tools, business performance management (BPM) for monitoring and analyzing performance, and a user interface (e.g. dashboard). Specifically, a BI service has the following major components as displayed in the following Figure:
  • aData Warehouse(DW) that contains BIG DATA, i.e. a collection of subject-oriented databases, text files, emails, images, voice annotations, and other structured and unstructured information needed to support decisions.
  • Tools for basic query and reporting purposes to understand the data
  • Tools for Business Analytics (BA) to support descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics based on the data in the data warehouse (DW);
  • Tools for Business Intelligence (BI) that support mining of data, clickstream, text and other artifacts in the DW
  • Business Performance Management (BPM) capabilities for monitoring and analyzing performance of business processes  
  • A User Interface (UI) that provides dashboards and other graphical tools for data visualization and integration of views



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