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Business Intelligence Technologies Cheat Sheet by

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For decision makers who want to improve business intell­igence, what business intell­igence techno­logies do you need to consider in producing actionable Business Intell­igence?

1. Data Wareho­using

A data warehouse (DW, DWH), or an enterprise data warehouse (EDW), is a system used for reporting and data analysis. Say you work for a company that uses multiple sources to keep track of transa­ctional data. You want to view order data from the past 5 years. Just thinking about exporting these lists and sifting through them all gives me a headache. You can use a data warehouse to integrate data from one or more disparate sources, which creates a central repository of data. Basically, this maintains a copy of inform­ation from the source transa­ction systems so that you only need a single query engine to view the data you need. A data warehouse is useful if you want a big picture of your organi­zat­ion­/en­ter­prise, to keep historical data, to improve the quality of your data (more consis­tent, less bad data, etc.), or to combine all data from different sources into a single data mode

2. Dashboards

A dashboard is an inform­ative, easily readable, usually one page, real-time user interface that shows a visual repres­ent­ation of data using graphs and charts. By real-time, we mean that most dashboards can be pulled up on a web page that is linked to a database so that the data shown is constantly updated and refreshed. Dashboards show summaries, key trends, compar­isons, and exceptions in both current and historical data. This can enable you to see at a glance the perfor­mance and status of different parts of an organi­zation and to make informed business decisions. The key benefits of dashboards are the ability to visualize data anytime, to easily spot trends, to keep track of key perfor­mance indica­tors, and to quickly gain total visibility or snapshots without having to run multiple reports.

3. Ad Hoc Reporting

Ad hoc as a Latin phrase simply translates to “for this”. It refers to a solution that was created for a specific question or problem and is not meant to be changed or adapted for different tasks. Ad hoc reporting is a common business term that references a report or model that is produced for the purpose of answering a specific business question. The main reason for ad hoc reporting may be to fill in a blank on an as-needed basis where a regular report did not. Or, it may be used to aid the making of an important business decision. Lastly, the data retrieved for an ad hoc report will be specific to answering one question, but can also be analyzed even deeper using a Web Report or a dashboard designer.

Levels of BI

4. Data Discovery

Sometimes called knowledge discovery, data discovery is essent­ially a pattern finding tool. Finding an unders­tan­dable structure among dozens of fields in large relational databases is usually difficult. Data discovery software can analyze a large amount of data to locate inform­ation from that set and extract previously unfound patterns, outliers, associ­ations, and correl­ations. Because the uses of data discovery are so broad and are frequently also applied to forms of large-­scale data, inform­ation proces­sing, and applic­ations of computer decision support systems, many times the term is used as a buzzword or to add value for marketing purposes. One example of data discovery in play is if you use the data discovery capacity of a software to analyze regional sales patterns of coffee sales. You may discover that college students buy more iced coffee Monday to Friday, and iced coffee buyers are more likely to purchase a doughnut. You could use this newfound inform­ation to increase revenue buy moving promotions on iced coffee to weekends, and offering a deal for doughnuts with iced coffee.

5. Cloud Data Services

More likely than not, you’re already using some sort of cloud based service, whether it’s for business or personal purposes. An increasing number of businesses are flocking to the cloud data service providers due to the new efficiency and capabi­lities they can offer. Using cloud data services means you can access IT resources, data storage, customer relati­onship manage­ment, enterprise resource planning, and marketing automation from anywhere. Data integr­ation, transf­orm­ation, management and security activities are no longer tethered to physical bodies. This means you can access inform­ation from anywhere at any time, providing unprec­edented speed, agility, reliab­ility and security. You can choose to use private, public, or hybrid clouds given the type of data integr­ation and data quality mainte­nance you need. With low overhead and easy scalab­ility, it’s no wonder many businesses are jumping on the cloud bandwagon.

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