Business Intelligence Applications
In this article we are going to take some time to discuss the various applications that are normally provided with Business Intelligence Systems.
Tools Used to Analyze Performance, Projects and Internal Operations
First we will look over the tools most commonly used to analyze areas such as performance or internal operations. These tools are helpful when a manager or executive wishes to view information pertaining to the general function of an area, this can range from the productivity to sales performance.
The first tool we will investigate is the Score carding tool. The Score carding tool was brought into Business Intelligence in 1992 by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton. This tool was designed to measure whether the actions of an organization were helping it to meet its objectives. This tool focuses both on the human and financial issues of a company. It is balanced to help provide a comprehensive view of an organization which in turn helps them to take actions that would be most beneficial to their business.
Now let us delve into Business Activity Monitoring. This tool concerns the aggregation, analysis, and presentation of real-time information about the activities within an organization and involving customers as well as partners. Business activities can be a business process that is a sequence of actions spanning numerous systems and applications, or it can be business processes that are orchestrated by the Business Performance Management tool. Business Activity Monitoring is a business solution chiefly intended to provide an actual summary of company activities to operations managers and upper management.
The goal of a Business Activity Monitoring tool is to provide up-to-date information about the status of an organization. This includes the status and the results of various operations, processes, and transactions. Some of the main benefits of this tool include; enabling the organization to make informed decisions, rapidly address problem areas, and re-position businesses to take complete advantage of emerging opportunities.
Next we will take a moment to look into the Business Performance Management tool we spoke of earlier. This application is a set of specific processes designed to aid organizations in optimizing their business performance. It is a framework for automating, analyzing, and organizing procedures, metrics, processes and systems that drive business performance. This application has been considered the next generation if Business Intelligence, it is designed to help organizations make efficient use of their financial, human, physical, and other resources.
Another application worthy of mentioning is the Competitive Analysis tool. Competitive Analysis concerns the assessment of strengths and weaknesses of an organization’s competitors. This analysis tool focuses on four main aspects. These aspects are competitor objectives, competitor assumptions, competitor strategy, and competitor resources and capabilities.
This also tool helps to create a competitor array. An array can include information pertaining to who the organization’s competitors are, who the company’s customers are and what they expect, the key success factors of the organization, rank of the key success factors, and the rate of each competitor against the key factors of the business. This tool is useful in helping an organization get a firm idea on who they are up against and what they will need to pass or match that competitor.
Let us look into Supply Chain Management tools. Supply Chain Management tools allow an organization to plan, implement, and control the operations of a supply chain. Supply Chain Management deals with all movement that concerns the storage of raw materials, work in process, and completed products from its point of origin to its point of consumption.
BI Applications and Data Analysis
We have discussed some of the tools that are used to analyze performance and internal workings of an organization. Now we are going to look at some tools designed to not only analyze data but also store it. These tools are normally used to store large amounts of data, some of them also transform data for easier reading.
The fist application or tool we will discuss is the Data Mining tool. Data Mining is essentially the principle of sorting through massive amounts of data and selecting the relevant information. Traditionally this has been done by analysts, who extracted the useful or relevant information from all recorded data. Needless to say with this new and more technologically advanced era the volume of data has increased substantially, and continues to do so. This increase calls for the use of computer based approaches.
Data set have grown not only in size but also in complexity, this has caused a much needed shift from hands on data analysis to automated data analysis that uses more complex or sophisticated tools. Thankfully modern technologies have made the task of data sorting and analysis nearly effortless.
Data mining also identifies trends in the information that go beyond simple analysis. This gives users the ability to identify key attributes of an organization. This identification aids in targeting opportunities.
Next we will touch on Data Warehouses. A Data Warehouse is the main repository an organizations historical data. This application contains the raw material for management’s decisions support system. A crucial factor leading to the use of a Data Warehouse is that data analysts can perform complex queries and analysis, like data mining, on the information without slowing the organization’s operating systems.
An influential practitioner named Bill Inmon formally defined the Data Warehouse in these terms;
Subject-Oriented: The data in the database is organized so that all the data elements relating to the same real-world event or object are linked together.
Time-Variant: The changes to the data in the database are tracked and recorded so that reports can be produced showing changes over time.
Non-Volatile: Data in the database is never over-written or deleted – once committed, the data is static, read-only, but retained for future reporting.
And finally integrated,
The database contains data from most or all of an organization’s operational applications, and that this data is made consistent.
Business Intelligence Applications involving human aspect of business
Lastly we will look into the tools or applications that pertain to the human side of an organization’s operations. This usually concerns the customer relationships and resources. First we will delve into the Customer Relationship Management application.
This application is known as the practice of intelligently finding, marketing to, selling to, and servicing customers. The term is broadly used to cover concepts used by companies, organizations, and public institutions to manage their relationships with customers and stakeholders. There are three aspects of Customer Relationship Management tools. These aspects are; operational- automating customer processes that offer support to sales or service, collaborative- the application communicates with customers without the company’s sales or service representative, and analytical- analyzes customer information for various purposes.
Customer Relationship Management is a comprehensive approach to an organization’s philosophy in dealing with its customers. This can include policies and procedures as well as customer service, employee training, marketing, and systems and information management.
Now we will take a quick look at marketing tools as they to deal with the human side of an organization. First let us define marketing, it is a societal process needed to discern customer desires and expectations. By using the marketing applications provided by Business Intelligence systems organization can focus on products or services that apply to those wants or expectations. Marketing is vital to business growth no matter what product or service an organization works with. These applications also track marketing trends, giving the user a good impression of what is popular in their area among organizations of a similar nature.
Finally we will get a feel for what Human Resource applications deal with. Human resource concerns the combination of administrative personnel functions with employee performance as well as employee relations and resource planning. This field deals closely with the psychology within the industrial or organizational environment. The main goals of this application are to maximinze the return on investment from the business’s human capital and minimize financial risk.
List of Additional Business Intelligence Applications
- Associative Query Logic
- Score carding,
- Performance Measurement
- Business Planning
- Business Process Re-engineering
- User/End-user Query and Reporting
- Enterprise Management systems
- Executive Information Systems
- Finance and Budgeting tools
- Decision Support Systems
- Document warehouses
- Document Management
- Knowledge Management
- Information visualization
- Management Information Systems
- Geographic Information Systems
- Trend Analysis
- Software as a service
- Business Intelligence offerings (On Demand)
- Online analytical processing (OLAP)
- Statistics and Technical Data Analysis
- Web Mining
- Text mining
- Systems intelligence.