It’s no secret that we live in a world full of data, and every action we take generates information. Every company uses Business Intelligence (BI) software to see and understand the valuable data from their systems and operations.
Business Intelligence is a complex area of IT that refers to a collection of tools, processes, infrastructure and data specialists.
A company uses BI tools to extract and analyze their data and understand their business needs easily. As a business manager or owner, one must use the company’s information to make strategic decisions for better performance.
Amongst all the values, the following ones are the most important and will showcase the power of a BI end-to-end integration.
Analyze and understand the data within a company
Each BI project will start with an in-depth analysis of the data needed as an input to achieve the output. Therefore, a BI Analyst will constantly study and understand the data of the systems he needs to use, check how to connect to those systems, and figure out the correspondent tables and columns of a field from the interface of the systems.
Using the power of BI at the data warehouse level, after systems were defined and integrated, one of the most important processes is to link the data between sources.
Here, the BI team will connect data between financial and sales applications, link clients to employees, or split between operational and non-operational activities. All these steps will help later on to do cross-functional reports or analyses.
Following validation processes and applying formulas to data, the BI team can identify mismatches, fix them at the data warehouse level and then align a flow to notify system owners about their problems so they can solve them.
For example, if an ID is always ten characters long, a length validation can be placed. Also, if the start date is greater than the end date for a contract, a notification will go out to a specific stakeholder that can quickly resolve this issue.
Through ETL, data transfer will be automated and scheduled at different time periods. ETL stands for EXTRACT – TRANSFORM – LOAD, and the flow is as follows:
- Get the data from a source system – EXTRACT
- Do various calculations and transformations to data – TRANSFORM
- Load the previous transformed data into the data warehouse - LOAD
One of the situations where Business Intelligence is the most helpful is when a recurrent analysis is automated in the ETL process and stored in the data warehouse. The output will mainly be a table or a view with the pre-calculated data available for the stakeholder to access. This will replace an amount of work for him that he would otherwise have done when needed.
Data and reports access can be configured to restrict or allow users to see all or parts of datasets, reports, of dashboards.
Suppose that users can have access to specific regions or departments at the data level for a report. In that case, the access can be as low as a row value from a table up to several tables, a schema, a database, or even the whole data warehouse.
A power user is a type of user that understands his data well and has a little technical background.
For this type of user, all the reporting tools can offer ways to do their analysis and even write small batches of SQL code. In this way, these users don’t need to wait for the BI team to take their requests, depending on the team’s priorities.
But as always, the data that the power user will use for his ad-hoc will be provided through the BI processes.
The main output of a BI flow is a report or dashboard that will be used by non-technical users to do presentations, write bord-decks or understand why things are running as they are.
For upper management and C level, the information provided by the BI team will help and guide decision-making and the company’s process guiding. The decisions taken based on accurate information from the company and not on unstructured data will help the company understand its priorities, where to invest more and where to reduce costs, or which part of the business is more productive.