Business intelligence is one of those phrases that everyone agrees is something all organizations, regardless of their size, should be doing. After all, no organization would admit to doing business stupidity. Nor, I presume, would any vendor admit to selling it.
But not everyone seems to agree on what the phrase means. Personally, I have always defined business intelligence as the data analytics performed in support of making informed business decisions (i.e., for me, business intelligence = decision support).
Oftentimes, this analytics is performed on data integrated, cleansed, and consolidated into a repository (e.g., a data warehouse). Other times, it’s performed on a single data set (e.g., a customer information file). Either way, business decision makers interact with the analytical results via static reports, data visualizations, dynamic dashboards, and ad hoc querying and reporting tools.
But robust business intelligence and analytics solutions used to be perceived as something only implemented by big businesses, as evinced in the big price tags usually associated with them. However, free and open source software, cloud computing, mobile, social, and a variety of as-a-service technologies drove the consumerization of IT, driving down the costs of solutions, enabling small and midsize businesses to afford them. Additionally, the open data movement lead to a wealth of free public data sets that can be incorporated into business intelligence and analytics solutions (examples can be found at kdnuggets.com/datasets).
Lyndsay Wise, author of the insightful book Using Open Source Platforms for Business Intelligence (to listen to a podcast about the book, click here: OSBI on OCDQ Radio), recently blogged about business intelligence for small and midsize businesses.
Wise advised that “recent market changes have shifted the market in favor of small and midsize businesses. Before this, most were limited by requirements for large infrastructures, high-cost licensing, and limited solution availability. With this newly added flexibility and access to lower price points, business intelligence and analytics solutions are no longer out of reach.”
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies, or opinions.