InetSoft Webinar: Let’s Explain Business Intelligence

This is the transcript of a Webinar hosted by InetSoft on the topic of "An Explanation of Business Intelligence." The speaker is Abhishek Gupta, product manager at InetSoft.

Today’s topic, to explain business intelligence, is a tricky one. I struggle with the answer to this not because I don't know the answer, but rather because the answer is so different to so many different people. There is not just one definition of ‘What is business intelligence?’ Business intelligence is a massive term. It encompasses lots of different areas, and inevitably my definition is going to be different from someone else's.

If you line up a hundred different consultants that are in the data warehousing industry, and you ask them to define business intelligence you're going to probably get some variant to about 50 to 75 answers. So I'm going to give you my view of it, but please understand this is one man's opinion. That doesn't make me right. It means that this is close, okay, but it doesn't mean that mine is the only version of ‘What is business intelligence’ that's out there, okay.

So I just wanted to lead with that. All right so, business intelligence, this is the hot buzzword really for about the last four to five years, and it's only getting hotter. Data warehousing, business intelligence those are the hot markets to enter right now in the job market.

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If I was starting a brand-new company I'd certainly be taking a close look at something with business intelligence or something with data warehousing because that's just where the world is moving. It’s like, at this point, the last frontier of what has not really been developed. By the time you watch this who knows, there could be some other new technology. I don't know.

Here's my explanation of BI. It's about getting the right information into the right people’s hands in a format that allows them to quickly understand the data. Now that's a rather pithy statement, and again my definition is just man's opinion of what business intelligence is. So it doesn't make it right. Okay. This is what I think it is.

This is what the webinar is predicated on, if you will. Now to me business intelligence is not just about decision support. It's not just about the making of the decisions here. It's not a methodology that describes the way to go from having no business intelligence and having a lot of business intelligence. There are no step-by-step instructions to have business intelligence.

It's not a methodology here. It's not just about reporting services. It’s not just about Crystal Reports. It's not just about Excel or the tools that we use to make these decisions. Here is maybe an epiphany for you. This isn’t SQL Server Analysis Services. That is not business intelligence. It doesn't make any sense once you understand what business intelligence is and does and is about. You don't have to have a data warehouse to do business intelligence.

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If you don't know what data marts are, or what a data warehouse is, that’s what I am here to help you with. We’ll cover that ground in couple of other webinars upcoming. I would be remiss if I didn't include definitions from other people. The Wikipedia one that I saw says, “BI refers to the skills, processes, technologies, applications and practices used to support decision making”. I like that one. I think that's a rather very compact way to say that.

The only thing that it's missing right there is making sure that the data that you get to the end-user is in a format that they can understand quickly. Sometimes business intelligence fails at the usability end of the spectrum. Some of you who have been in BI will completely understand that. You know there are a couple of other ones, and I realize you can read, so if you have the PDF of this video you can pull these up and read these here.

But I noticed a couple of things here. BI is a broad category, blah-blah-blah-blah. BI is an umbrella term, blah-blah-blah. Okay. So there's a lot of different ways that we can talk about what business intelligence is. And just because the guys at TechTarget or Wikipedia say it's this one thing, that's their opinion. That's their way of treating it, just like this is my opinion, my way of treating it.