The term Business Intelligence (BI) represents the tools and systems that play a key role in the strategic planning process of the corporation. These systems allow a company to gather, store, access and analyze corporate data to aid in decision-making. Generally these systems will illustrate business intelligence in the areas of customer profiling, customer support, market research, market segmentation, product profitability, statistical analysis, and inventory and distribution analysis to name a few.
Most companies collect a large amount of data from their business operations. To keep track of that information, a business and would need to use a wide range of software programs , such as Excel, Access and different database applications for various departments throughout their organization. Using multiple software programs makes it difficult to retrieve information in a timely manner and to perform analysis of the data.
Business intelligence and data warehousing
Often BI applications use data gathered from a data warehouse or a data mart. However, not all data warehouses are used for business intelligence, nor do all business intelligence applications require a data warehouse.
To distinguish between the concepts of business intelligence and data warehouses, Forrester Research often defines business intelligence in one of two ways:
Using a broad definition: "Business Intelligence is a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information used to enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational insights and decision-making." When using this definition, business intelligence also includes technologies such as data integration, data quality, data warehousing, master data management, text and content analytics, and many others that the market sometimes lumps into the Information Management segment. Therefore, Forrester refers to data preparation and data usage as two separate, but closely linked segments of the business intelligence architectural stack.
Forrester defines the latter, narrower business intelligence market as, "...referring to just the top layers of the BI architectural stack such as reporting, analytics and dashboards."