The term Business Intelligence has been around for about 20 years. However, recent user-centric IT solutions have contributed to its democratisation. What are the fundamentals?
Business Intelligence (BI), also known as Business Intelligence, is the set of tools and methods aimed at transmitting relevant information to company managers. Its aim is to help them understand their environment and to support them in their strategic decision-making. The user’s needs are therefore at the heart of effective Business Intelligence.
Originally, Business Intelligence was the prerogative of a few experts and the services concerned were counted on the fingers of one hand: accounting, finance, logistics, possibly commerce… For several years now, however, web technologies and the increase in the power of computer terminals have facilitated the dissemination of BI tools to users, in discrete forms. As a result, most businesses now use Business Intelligence to consolidate the information they have at their disposal.
The collection of data by the company is the basis on which Business Intelligence will capitalize. After checking its quality and format, this data is stored in a repository. This repository is usually a centralized computer server, called Datawarehouse or Datamart (data store for a particular business or type of business). This data can then be distributed to users according to their needs via a tool adapted to the specificities of each business.
The purpose of these different steps for the user is to be able to exploit the available information. In this way, he is able to improve his ability to make relevant decisions in his business. BI allows him to analyze data more easily, by restoring them in an accessible and intuitive form. Reports and dashboards* allow data to be displayed and visualized in tables and other graphs. The data can become information, which the user will take hold of and be able to disseminate in an optimal way.
Dataviz, otherwise known as datavisualisation, developed at the crossroads of statistics and design. An integral part of Business Intelligence, its added value lies in the art of representing data visually and communicating its content to operational decision-makers and the general public.
This can take the form of graphs, pie charts, diagrams, maps, chronologies, computer graphics or even unpublished graphic creations or photos.
The idea is to make access to the decision much more immediate thanks to a representation clearly prioritizing the issues: datavisualization thus proceeds from both analysis and graphic formatting. This requirement is reinforced in a Big Data context where the avalanche of data produces a major constraint in terms of restitution and perspective.
Data Storytelling is a relatively recent “concept”, which must be distinguished from Dataviz, even if they are closely related. The aim is to tell a story constructed from data, to illustrate it in a form other than simple tables of figures, and to make it accessible through a narrative representation that can be understood by all.
Simple tables of figures do not make you want to. A static graph, without the story it tells, is not enough either.
Storytelling is the art of telling a story, telling the story of its data, introducing a subjective dimension to graphics, conveying a message, an emotion, to go beyond a simple rain of figures to which the reader does not give meaning.
This storytelling gives meaning to the graphic representation.
With its diffusion, Business Intelligence has become a key cog in the wheel of the company’s operation. It no longer ignores the challenges posed by the use of the web and social networks. Collaborative work using appropriate technologies is becoming a reality in many companies. The challenge of BI tools is therefore to place the circulation of useful data at the heart of the company.