Business intelligence is a hot industry buzzword right now and there is a lot of discussion about this topic. In a way BI is nothing new; businesses have always made an effort to record and analyze their operations and quantify the impact of those operations. What makes these new intelligence tools different is the sheer volume of data that it is now possible to collect and organize. Emerging thought and modeling theories are giving us a new methodological framework with which to examine the collected information and the current capabilities of Internet-based operations, mobile computing, and social media has opened up whole new worlds of data.
The current excitement surrounding intelligence software and its potential uses has people asking a lot of questions – and the first question many of them ask is “What can these intelligence tools actually do for me?”
Intelligence software can get you information on what has already happened
Until fairly recently intelligence tools could only tell you what had already happened. The analysis of data representing a period of time in the past could be used to understand what was happening at the moment and, with any luck, what was likely to happen in the future.
Intelligence software that gives you a look at the past grants you insight into how you can prepare for similar circumstances. For instance, if books by a certain author sold strongly during the past holiday season, that information can be used in future holiday season preparation.
Intelligence software can tell you what is happening currently
A lot of business intelligence software is used to collect information from the Internet. Data miners drive the generation of targeted advertising and other real-time interactions. Anyone looking at the accumulated data of, for instance, trending Twitter or search engine topics will see patterns rising and falling at the same time as those patterns are unfolding across the Internet.
Getting a glimpse of active information gives you the opportunity to fine tune the message your organization is sending out. You can adjust operations to move with or against certain trends and thereby remain completely up to date.
Intelligence software can help you prepare for what is coming next
As you analyze the data collected by BI programs you will get a feel for what you can expect in the near future; this is especially true of people using data mining programs that show the changes taking place in real-time or near real-time. Looking back over longer periods of time you are likely to see exceptional circumstances standing out; you can see what impact those circumstances had on your data. This information allows you to adjust future operations when those unique circumstances occur again.
Where does this information come from?
Intelligence software collects information from several different sources; input can come from:
- The Internet – website analytics and online data miners are two major forms of Internet-based intelligence functions.
- End-user interaction – touch screens used in restaurant and bar settings interface with the data collection portion of the control software and records the frequency of item selection, time of day, and other data points.
- Submission forms – error reports and other bits of generated data are collected by a central program which then organizes them according to user-specified categories.
- Catalog and inventory programs – Inventory tracking programs are used to record the activity of physical items; as these items are checked out, returned, maintained, or replaced the inventory program records the activity and can generate a report of overall item activity within the organization.
The type of intelligence software you choose will depend on what sort of industry you are part of and what sector within it you work in.
The accurate and comprehensive sets of data generated by your intelligence tools can be used to create reports for employees, managers, shareholders, and the general public. This complex computer software now available makes it possible to look at information in entirely new ways.