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Business Intelligence has evolved from 1960s-era decision support system (DSS) to Executive Information System (EIS), Data Warehouses (DW), Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) to modern BI. We have web and mobile-based BI systems that go beyond simple reporting and analysis. It includes data integration, cleansing and advanced analytical functionality for making the enterprise information readily available to the business managers and executives.
BI is used for multiple business purposes like:
- Quantitative analysis through predictive modeling, business process modeling, predictive and statistical analysis.
- Measurement of performance and benchmarking progress toward business goal.
- Developing collaborative programs through electronic data interchange (EDI) and data sharing.
- Developing knowledge management programs to create insight and experiences for regulatory compliance and learning management.
- Reporting of departmental perspectives of data visualization, OLAP and EIS.
- Getting visual answers to tricky business questions.
Business intelligence tools comprise of systems designed to capture, categorize and analyze corporate business data to gain insight for improved decision-making. The more advanced the system is, the more data sources it will combine to gather intelligence. These data sources include social media channels, internal metrics coming from different company departments, external data collected from third-party systems, and macroeconomic data.
A modern BI needs to fulfill the below criteria:
- It should provide total abstraction of end-to-end process so that the analysts are not bogged down by the system complexity
- It should have robust business modeling capabilities
- It should be able to deliver extreme performance from the distributed and commodity clustered architecture
- The system should be able to perform statistical and quantitative analysis using vast amounts of data
- The BI has to support limitless types of data sources
BI tools include data visualization software for designing charts, infographics and performance scorecards that display key performance indicators (KPIs) and visualized data in an easy-to-grasp way. Data visualization tools have become the standard of modern BI. Now, virtually every major BI tool incorporates features of visual data discovery.
BI programs include many forms of advanced analytics such as:
- Data mining
- Text mining
- Predictive analytics
- Statistical analysis
- Big data analytics
BI platforms are increasingly being used as front-end interfaces for big data systems. Users can connect to a range of data sources, including NoSQL databases, Hadoop, cloud platform and the more conventional data warehouses to obtain a unified view of their diverse data.
The potential benefits of BI include:
- Accelerated decision-making
- Enhanced operational efficiency
- Optimized internal business processes
- Identifying market trends and spot business problems
- Gaining competitive advantage over business rivals
- Enhanced productivity and collaboration
BI combines a broad set of data analysis applications including online analytical processing (OLAP), mobile BI, cloud and software-as-a-service BI, real-time BI, open source BI, location intelligence and collaborative BI. Business intelligence teams generally include a mix of BI developers, BI architects, data management professionals and business analysts. Advanced analytics projects are often managed by separate teams of data scientists, predictive modelers, data scientists, statisticians and analytics professionals while BI teams oversee more straightforward querying and analysis of business data.
Power BI – experience your data, anywhere, anytime
Microsoft Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools that delivers insights throughout an enterprise and allows the business managers to drive ad hoc analysis. It’s a free, self-service cloud service that provides non-technical business users with the tools for visualizing, analyzing, aggregating and sharing data. It’s user interface is fairly intuitive for those familiar with Excel, and its deep integration with other Microsoft products makes it a highly versatile tool. Every user can create their personalized dashboard with a 360 degree view of their business.
The service is available as a web-based software-as-a-service (SaaS), called Power BI. Its downloadable version for Windows is called Power BI Desktop. Native mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows are also available.
Key features of Power BI are described below in brief:
Hybrid deployment support: Built-in connectors allow the tool to connect with multiple data sources from Microsoft, Salesforce, Facebook and other vendors.
Quick insights: The users can create subsets of data and automatically apply analytics to that information.
APIs for integration: The developers can use sample code and APIs for embedding the dashboard in other software products.
Cortana integration: This feature allows mobile users to verbally query data using natural language and access results using Cortana – Microsoft’s digital assistant.
Customization: The developers can change the appearance of default visualization and reporting tools, and import new tools into the platform.
With Power BI, the users can post Excel-based reports along with queries used to gather the data of the reports. Other users can access this information and use it to generate their own reports. Microsoft has made four plug-ins available to Excel that let the users retrieve heterogeneous data, create reports and integrate them with Power BI. These plug-ins are:
Power Query: Builds queries that connect to various data sources and supports sophisticated analytics with Excel.
Power Pivot: Creates complex table-based data models that support hierarchies, relationships and custom measures.
Power Map: Provides geospatial data on 3-D maps integrated into the reports.
Power View: Creates analytical reports including graphs and interactive charts.
Visualization features that go beyond Excel
Excel has many useful features for business intelligence but when you work with large volumes of data, you need more functionalities that Excel doesn’t have. Power BI for Office 365 combines the features of Power Query and Power Pivot currently available for Excel. With Power Query, non-programmers can do some of their own Extraction, Transformation and Load (ETL) operations. This feature comes handy for the analysts who want to integrate the organization’s business data with the publicly available data. Power Pivot allows the analysts to work with millions of rows of data at one time. Its visualization capabilities let you create the tools that others can use, like pivot tables.
Customized BI solutions for businesses
At Flexsin, we have experts who will integrate BI into your business intelligence strategy, allowing you to immediately start observing trends. Track the health of your business and make data driven decisions faster with our innovative business intelligence solutions. We partner with your business to deploy BI, and serve as your dedicated BI liaison. Our Power BI solutions will allow you to connect, model, clean and synthesize data, and create interactive live reports and dashboard.
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