One of the usual questions that have always been asked to me when anybody asked me about my career is “What is Business Intelligence”? I have tried a lot to find a simple or summarized answer for this question but the problem is that there is no simple answer.

Business intelligence

Business intelligence (BI) refers to skills, technologies, applications and practices used to help a business acquire a better understanding of its commercial context. Business intelligence may also refer to the collected information itself.
BI technologies provide historical, current, and predictive views of business operations. Common functions of business intelligence technologies are reporting, OLAP, analytics, data mining, business performance management, benchmarks, text mining, and predictive analytics.
Business intelligence often aims to support better business decision-making. Thus a BI system can be called a decision support system (DSS).

History

In a 1958 article, IBM researcher Hans Peter Luhn used the term business intelligence. He defined intelligence as: “the ability to apprehend the interrelationships of presented facts in such a way as to guide action towards a desired goal.”
In 1989 Howard Dresner (later a Gartner Group analyst) proposed BI as an umbrella term to describe “concepts and methods to improve business decision making by using fact-based support systems.” It was not until the late 1990s that this usage was widespread.

Business intelligence and data warehousing

Often BI applications use data gathered from a data warehouse or a data mart. However, not all data warehouses are used for business intelligence nor do all business intelligence applications require a data warehouse.

Competitive intelligence

The term business intelligence is often used as a synonym for competitive intelligence.

The future of business intelligence

A 2009 Gartner Group paper predicted these developments in business intelligence market .
Because of lack of information, processes, and tools, through 2012, more than 35 per cent of the top 5,000 global companies will regularly fail to make insightful decisions about significant changes in their business and markets.
By 2012, business units will control at least 40 per cent of the total budget for business intelligence.
By 2010, 20 per cent of organizations will have an industry-specific analytic application delivered via software as a service as a standard component of their business intelligence portfolio.
In 2009, collaborative decision making will emerge as a new product category that combines social software with business intelligence platform capabilities.
By 2012, one-third of analytic applications applied to business processes will be delivered through coarse-grained application mashups.