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Business Intelligence


Business intelligence is the process of gathering information in the field of business. Information is typically obtained about customer needs, customer decision making processes, the competition, conditions in the industry, and general economic, technological, and cultural trends. Business intelligence is carried out to gain sustainable competitive advantage, and is a valuable core competence in some instances. Every business intelligence system has a specific goal, which is derived from an organisational goal or from the Vision statement. Goals could be short term (e.g.: quarterly numbers to Wall Street) or long term (shareholder value, target industry share / size etc).

The term was first used by Gartner and popularized by analyst Howard Dresner. It describes the process of turning data into information and then into knowledge. The intelligence is claimed to be more useful to the user as it passes through each step.

Industrial espionage is a type of business intelligence that uses covert techniques. There is a grey area between "normal" business intelligence and industrial espionage.

Business performance management is a software oriented business intelligence system that some see as the new generation of business intelligence though the terms are used interchangably by most in the industry.

The first probable reference to Business intelligence is made in Sun Tzu's "Art of War" where he claims that to succeed in war, you should have full knowledge of your strengths/weaknesses and full knowledge of your enemy's strengths/weaknesses. Lack of either one might result in defeat. BI is the art or wading through tons of data overload, sieving through data and presenting information - both internal (from operational systems) and external (market intelligence) - on which management can act or build strategies.

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