What is Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence (BI) is a way to reveal actionable insights in your data, find out what happened, and then explore why it happened.  These insights can be used to chart or change the path of your business. 

When you understand the 'why,' it becomes simple to identify the factors in your business that are lifting you up, or holding you back.

The tools and technology of BI give you the power to rapidly collect, organize, and analyze your data. From there, you can infuse the insights gained back into your business, and dramatically improve your results.

Predict trends and plan more effectively for the future

In this scenario, a dashboard is used to visualize the mortgages held, amortization period and debt for households across the United States. Government and local housing agencies can use this to predict trends and plan more effectively for the future.

Identify patterns in data

In this scenario, a spiral diagram is used to explore the underlying factors that determine automotive insurance payouts. An insurer can use this to identify patterns in their customer data.

Why does BI Matter?

In many organizations, decisions are made on the basis of gut feeling or personal experience. This is risky, because our opinions and memories are often be influenced by subtle biases. 

For instance, confirmation bias is the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms our own ideas. We actively ignore or discredit information that refutes those ideas.

The availability heuristic is another mental shortcut, where we estimate the likelihood of something by looking at the number of similar instances that come to mind easily.

In today's world, tools like AI give you the ability to identify unbiased patterns in your data, and then act upon those insights objectively.

Benefits of Business Intelligence

The Business Application Research Center (BARC) asked over 2,600 BI users to identify the benefits of business intelligence:




identify faster reporting, analysis or planning




make better business decisions




improve employee satisfaction

Here are a few more ways you can improve your business results:

  • Boost profit by uncovering the rationale behind customer behaviour
  • Accelerate business insight through in-depth visualizations
  • Uncover the challenges preventing you from maximizing operations
  • Increase customer satisfaction by tailoring your product or service to their actual needs

Choosing a BI Solution

1. Assess your current tools and processes.

2. Look for a user-friendly self service solution.

3. Go beyond what's happening, and get to the why.

4. Embrace artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language. 

5. Look for a scalable cloud solution that fits your budget


IBM Cognos Analytics

Unearth hidden insights with a self-service BI solution driven by AI — IBM Cognos® Analytics.