Business intelligence (BI) is a term that refers to ideas, practices and technologies for turning raw data into information that businesses can use to make better organizational decisions. Businesses that employ BI effectively can transform information into growth by gaining a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, cutting costs and losses, streamlining internal processes and increasing revenue.
For instance, retailers commonly use BI to determine which items to add or remove from stock; medical administrators use BI to control the flow of patients through a hospital; and casinos often employ BI to design gaming floors that maximize player engagement.
BI helps business leaders collect, analyze and provide access to data through a few key applications:
Complex event processing
Online analytical processing (OLAP)
Business performance management
While BI as we know it today first emerged in the 1980s with the development of visual analytic software, its roots can be traced as far back as the 1950s when IBM technology scientist Hans Peter Luhn published a groundbreaking research paper titled, “A Business Intelligence System,” where he envisioned a computer-automated document processing system.
As technology has advanced, so has BI. Today, BI users can access data on simple interfaces that can provide information quickly, without having to wait on intermediaries in IT to crunch data and run reports.