Business Intelligence software is an essential tool for analyzing your company’s strengths and weaknesses. From inventory management, to accounting, to customer intelligence and beyond, there are many ways you can use BI software to inform your decision-making, increase operational efficiency, and gain a competitive edge.

BI, or Business Intelligence, is software that has been specifically designed to analyze all the data a business has to gain a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. At least, that is how Webopedia defines it.

In a nutshell, businesses tend to collect massive amounts of data. This data can be about anything from inventory to the purchasing habits of customers and everything in between. This data by itself doesn’t really mean much. However, once all of this data has been analyzed by the BI software, it is turned into useful and valuable information that is critical to the survival of any company.

BI Software

Different types of BI software are good for different things. Some of them are great at inventory management, while others can handle accounting data and the like. The type of BI software that you need will depend on the type of business that you are in and what you need it to do. Whatever type you might need, though, you can find the top ranked BI systems easily and go from there.

You can choose from executive dashboards and scorecards to OLAP analysis (online analytical processing), ad hoc or operational reporting, forecasting, data mining, and even customer intelligence software.

Going it Alone

If you have a one-person startup business, you might be able to do this on your own for a while. As your business grows, though, it will naturally begin to accumulate more and more data. The thing is, no matter how many books on big data you read, you will eventually need tools, such as BI software, in order to make your data work for you as your business grows.

Business Intelligence software encompasses a wide range of tools, methodologies, and applications that allow for businesses to collect the data from external and internal sources, get it ready to be analyzed, develop and then run queries on the data, and then create reports, data visualizations, and dashboards in order to make the analytical results ready and easily available to the decision makers in the business as well as to workers on the operational level.

Can you do all of that by yourself?


There is a range of potential benefits to BI programs that include improving and accelerating the decision-making process, the optimization of your internal business processes while increasing your operational efficiency in order to drive new revenues and to gain a competitive edge over rival companies. Additionally, BI systems can assist your company when it comes to identifying market trends and spotting issues with the business that need to be dealt with.

The data BI uses can include things like new data that is gathered as it is actually generated as well as historical information. This enables It to support both the tactical and the strategic decision-making processes. Initially, the BI tools were mainly used by traditional data analysts as well as a few other IT professionals who would run analysis and then produce reports with their query results for the end business users. However, business workers and executives are now using this type of software themselves, and this is partly because of the development of self – service data discovery and BI tools.

What it Can Include

Business Intelligence software combines a wide range of applications for the analysis of data that can include things like:

  • Querying and ad hoc analysis
  • Enterprise reporting
  • OLAP – online analytical processing
  • Real time BI
  • Mobile BI
  • Software and cloud as a
    • Service BI
    • Collaborative BI
    • Open source BI
    • Location intelligence

Business Intelligence technology can also include things like software for data visualization so that you can design infographics and charts, as well as having tools that can build BI dashboards and even scorecards for performance that will display data visualized on business metrics and some key performance indicators in a way that is easy to understand. You can purchase BI applications separately from a variety of vendors or all together as a unified sort of BI platform from the vendor of your choice.

The bottom line is that if you are a business of any size, at some point, you will need to get a bit of business intelligence software. Make sure that before you do, you research the different types and all that they entail in order to ensure that you get the one the will best suit the needs of your business.

By Rebecca Wilcox

About the author

Becky Wilcox is a mother and entrepreneur. Originally from the east, she now lives on the west coast. Becky enjoys writing about business, health, tech, and anything else that sparks her interest!