We have addressed the question “What is Business Intelligence Software?” in a related article, so here we will address the question “What are Business Intelligence Tools?”
The short answer is that Business Intelligence Tools are used to extract, analyze and report on data in order to support fact based decision making. They allow users to interrogate data from multiple sources, in any dimension, in order to understand how a business is performing against certain key performance metrics.
Whilst that sounds simplistic in theory, it is not that easy in practice, because data often resides in different systems, is stored in different formats, is subject to differing reporting time periods, and so on. Business Intelligence Tools are designed to make that process of retrieving the data, analyzing it and reporting it, much simpler than it would otherwise be, so that users can spend their valuable time interpreting results rather than wasting their time trying to compile the data.
Business Intelligence Tools often (but not always) extract the data from what is known as a Data Warehouse. A Data Warehouse is essentially a central repository for data, which may come from a variety of sources. Operating systems, such as ERP systems, are transactional by nature. With operating systems, extracting information for reporting purposes can cause problems by putting additional load on the server, which in turn impacts on performance. By contrast, the data warehouse stores all the information from a variety of sources in a logical structure to enable a user to interrogate the data, based on multiple variables. Data warehouses are designed to achieve fast data retrieval, even on the most complex of queries.
To achieve this, data is stored not only in its most granular form, but also in summary tables, to speed up the retrieval of information. Business Intelligence Tools can extract that data and present the data in intuitive formats to make it easy to identify trends, opportunities and threats.
Business Intelligence Tools can come in many different guises. At the simplest level, an excel spreadsheet can be regarded as a Business Intelligence Tool. At the other end of the spectrum, data mining tools are used to find associations and correlations in data.
Finally, Business Intelligence Tools must allow data to be easily shared between stakeholders. By collaborating around common data, fact based decisions can be made faster and actions taken quicker to effect change in the marketplace.
Many companies, our retail partners included, complain that it is difficult and time consuming to extract data from numerous different internal systems in order to work out what is going on in their businesses.
Krunchbox is a Business Intelligence Tool designed to simplify the process of finding out and understanding what is happening in your business.
Data can be imported from any number of sources, from retail scan data to internal supply chain data, to provide a window into what the consumer is purchasing and how to optimize stock allocations.