Business Intelligence Systems: Definition, Benefits, & Trends – Business Intelligence systems (BI) are systems used to drive strategy, analyze data, and extract insights. This all serves to inform decision-makers.

BI is useful for making data-based decisions, conducting faster analysis, increasing company efficiency, increasing customer and employee satisfaction, producing trusted data, and increasing competitive advantage.

The types of BI tools and software that are often found are spreadsheets, reporting software, data visualization software, data mining tools, and online analytical processing.

Understanding what’s happening in all areas of your business is critical if you want to stay competitive. However, when data is stored, decision-makers have difficulty tracking key performance indicators (KPIs).

Getting that valuable information into the hands of key decision-makers is the solution that business intelligence systems offer.

What is a Business Intelligence System (BI)?

Business Intelligence Systems: Definition, Benefits, & Trends
Business Intelligence Systems: Definition, Benefits, & Trends

Business intelligence systems (BI) refer to systems that organizations use to drive strategy, analyze data, and extract insights to inform decision-makers.

BI is used to answer how a business performed in the past and why those results occurred.

An effective business intelligence system enables all members of an organization, from leaders and managers to frontline support and operations personnel to act on shared intelligence derived from a single, reliable data source.

What are the Benefits of BI?

BI helps business decision-makers get the information they need to make informed decisions. But the benefits of BI go beyond business decision-making, according to data visualization vendor Tableau, including the following:

Data-based business decisions

The ability to drive business decisions with data is a key benefit of BI. A strong business intelligence strategy can provide accurate data and faster reporting capabilities to business users to help them make better business decisions.

Faster analysis and intuitive dashboards

Improve reporting efficiency by condensing reports into dashboards that are easy for non-technical users to analyze, saving them time when searching for insights from the data.

Increased organizational efficiency

Business intelligence systems can help provide a holistic view of business operations, giving leaders the ability to compare results with larger organizational goals and identify areas of opportunity.

Improved customer experience

Direct access to data can help employees responsible for customer satisfaction provide a better experience.

Increase employee satisfaction

Providing business users with access to data without having to contact analysts or IT can reduce friction, increase productivity, and facilitate faster results.

Trusted and managed data

Modern business intelligence systems platforms can connect internal databases with external data sources into a single data warehouse, enabling departments across the organization to access the same data at one time.

Increased competitive advantage

A good BI strategy can help businesses monitor their changing markets and anticipate customer needs.

Main Features of Business Intelligence System

Business intelligence systems are a vital tool in achieving the operational efficiency and agility your organization requires.

A true BI solution can help you analyze, visualize, understand, and harness the power of that information in a strategic way. However, what features should you need in a BI solution?

The following are the features that a business intelligence system needs to have.

Connection to the data source

You must be able to get access to data to perform business intelligence. It’s important to ensure that your analytics BI tools can connect to other solutions that handle data storage.

These data sources can include databases such as MySQL, data warehouses such as Amazon Redshift and Google BigQuery, or even ad hoc data files in CSV format. Make sure your business intelligence tools can also access the latest data to make timely decisions.

Data querying

In addition to being able to connect to data sources, it’s also worth checking how easily BI tools can connect between data sources.

A good business intelligence system will make it easier to take queries from different data sources and combine them into new ones. Connecting and combining data from multiple data sources provides opportunities for additional insights that would not be possible on their own.

Data visualization and dashboards

Data visualization is a core component of most business intelligence systems. A good visualization chart can convey insights more quickly than a simple table of numbers.

BI tools should also be able to organize groups of charts and tables into dashboards. Dashboards enable continuous tracking of critical business metrics in one location. Make sure the BI tool you choose can update its dashboard automatically so that your audience always has the latest information.

Data analysis

It is important to keep in mind the types of analysis that the available data can handle. When there are unexpected changes in metrics, business intelligence systems must allow users to dig deeper into the data.

Modern BI tools will allow users to modify and add to previous queries to gain deeper insights into the data. Another feature that supports analysis and exploration is filters that can affect multiple charts at once.

Remember that BI tends to focus on descriptive and diagnostic analysis. While it may seem attractive for a business intelligence system to include more advanced capabilities such as machine learning or artificial intelligence, it is far from necessary.

Deployment method

Another big consideration in choosing a business intelligence system is how the tool will be used. Traditional BI software requires on-premises deployment, including hardware setup to software installation.

Modern BI follows a cloud-based deployment model. Cloud-based BI tools do not require a special hardware setup, sometimes just an online connection.

Because resources are accessed remotely, cloud-based BI strategies are faster to execute and easier to adapt to a company’s data needs.

It is now much easier to perform complex analyses because of this scalability. While on-premises deployments can have some small advantages with customization capabilities, you’re better off sticking with a cloud-based BI solution.

Types of Business Intelligence System Tools and Software

BI tools and software come in many forms. Let’s take a quick look at some common types of business intelligence system solutions.


Spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel and Google Docs are some of the most widely used BI tools.

Reporting software

Reporting software is used to report, organize, filter, and display data.

Data visualization software

Data visualization software translates data sets into easy-to-read and visually appealing graphical representations to gain insights quickly.

Data mining tools

Data mining tools “mine” large amounts of data for patterns using things like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and statistics.

Online analytical processing (OLAP)

OLAP allows users to analyze data sets from various angles based on different perspectives.

Trends in Business Intelligence Systems

Over the last decade, business intelligence systems have undergone a revolution. Data explodes and becomes huge.

The following are some business intelligence and analytics trends that you should be aware of.

Artificial Intelligence

AI and machine learning are now taking on complex tasks performed by human intelligence. This capability is utilized to produce real-time data analysis and dashboard reporting.

Collaborative BI

BI software combined with collaboration tools, including social media, and other latest technologies improve work and sharing between teams for collaborative decision-making.

Embedded BI

Embedded BI enables the integration of BI software or some of its features into a business application to improve and expand its reporting functionality.

Cloud Analytics

Cloud-based analytics can be defined as hosting business intelligence analytics within a network of cloud computing resources. The analytics platform is hosted partially or completely in the cloud.

Many businesses are turning to the cloud for sales data, marketing data, and even financial and HR data. A Cloud BI solution capable of connecting to multiple data sources is invaluable for any role to deliver and share business insights.

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