Business Intelligence (BI)

Business Intelligence (BI) means a lot of different things to different people so we here at decided we’d set a definition we all agreed upon… Shouldn’t be too hard since there are currently only two of us, right?
Business Intelligence
Maybe not.  We tried to use existing definitions from all over the web.  Nothing felt right.

Could “Business Intelligence” just be an oxymoron?  Insert your own joke about intelligence in business here… chuckle and move on… :)

We tried to break each word down to their base definitions and merge them back:

  • Business:  “An organization or economic system where goods and services are exchanged for one another or for money. Every business requires some form of investment and enough customers to whom its output can be sold on a consistent basis in order to make a profit.”
  • Intelligence: “Capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.”

Business Intelligence definition merge:

Business Intelligence is learning about and understanding how your company or competitors create and sell goods or services at a profit and then deriving meaning, relationships, and facts to increase those profits.

I like it.  For now.  Obviously this doesn’t get into the BI software, consulting or product arena, but business people have been performing BI tasks since businesses started to appear in the world…

Wooly Mammoth

We didn’t want to convolute the discussion with vendor slants or preconceived solutions in mind.  You think that “” didn’t evaluate their business model at the end of the ice age and realize long coats weren’t selling as quickly online? Of course they did – that is why they created “” and later “” which was eventually sold off and became what is now WoolWorth’s… true story… or they just went out of business… :)

There are a lot of definitions floating around the net and depending on who your audience is or who you are trying to sell your BI ideas to you might like one of these better.

Alternate definitions of BI:

  • defines it as “an umbrella term that refers to a variety of software applications used to analyze an organization’s raw data. BI as a discipline is made up of several related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting.”
    • Remember that this is catering to CIO’s.  Nice bunch of people, but at their level it is much more about the technology, return on investment of the software, etc.  Plus vendors get all googly eyed when they can sell at this level.
  • defines it as “a set of theories, methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information for business purposes. BI can handle large amounts of information to help identify and develop new opportunities. Making use of new opportunities and implementing an effective strategy can provide a competitive market advantage and long-term stability”
    • I actually like this definition in the context of business intelligence for big data, but I don’t think it has to be raw data nor does it absolutely have to be large amounts of data.
  • Forrester Research commonly defines it broadly as “a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information used to enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational insights and decision-making”
    • This is about as close to a good definition as you’ll find so maybe we can come to a consensus here at Dweebi.  We will update this document if we do.  Don’t count on it.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions so leave us a comment below.

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