What is Business Intelligence? – IBM Business Analytics Blog

Reading Time: 3 minutes Data is everywhere. In your phone, your TV, your car, your house, your company’s ledgers and supply chain . . . we’re living in a world awash with data. However, it’s not the data itself that really matters, it’s what you do with it. That’s where […]

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Data is everywhere. In your phone, your TV, your car, your house, your company’s ledgers and supply chain . . . we’re living in a world awash with data. However, it’s not the data itself that really matters, it’s what you do with it. That’s where data analytics — and business intelligence — comes in.

Data analytics is one of the fastest-growing, most strategic parts of business today. It has become the lifeline for critical business decisions. That’s why, in recent years, we’ve seen an explosion of desktop, self-service business intelligence (BI) tools.

BI = Business Intelligence

So, what is business intelligence? In short, BI is an orchestrated set of software, services, and work processes to ingest data and present it in different user-friendly views like reports, visualizations, dashboards, charts, graphs, and maps.

Today’s BI tools allow your everyday business user to interact with all different types of data — internal and external, historical and current, third-party and in-house, even weather or social media data. Users can then use that data to develop insights about how the business is performing.

Even better, modern BI and analytics tools use machine learning and augmented intelligence to automate and streamline complex tasks, making it faster and easier for non-technical users to create compelling reports, dashboards, and data visualizations. Armed with those insights, users can take action to improve an organization’s strategic and tactical business operations.

Sounds easy, right? Just swipe your credit card and get started. Not quite . . .

Why do I need a trusted BI solution?

While most enterprises know how to collect massive amounts of data from their operations, actually implementing analytics as a business discipline has proven to be much more difficult. According to a recent TDWI study, “only 11 percent of respondents said that they were very satisfied with their companies’ investments in data and analytics projects to meet strategic goals for enabling data-driven decision-making or actionable customer intelligence.”

The survey also showed that spreadsheets continue to be the preferred method for analytics. “89% of respondents state that they input data into spreadsheets for analysis, yet 81% are concerned about data quality and consistency when using these files.” We’ve written often about the problems created by relying on spreadsheets, and rightly so — they’re far from adequate for BI purposes.

To drive confident decisions across your business, you need a BI solution that provides your business users a flexible yet managed environment with the self-service they demand, built on a secure foundation of control you can trust. This gives you the best of everything: the assurance of an enterprise solution that delivers professional reports, with enough agility that business users can create ad hoc reports on their own. You’ll reduce the number of tools you need to support while eliminating blind spots and uncertainty in your decision making.

IBM Cognos Analytics: A BI solution you can trust

That’s where IBM Cognos Analytics comes into play.


IBM Cognos Analytics is a self-service BI and analytics solution that empowers people to work with data and find their own answers to what‘s happening in their business — and, more importantly, why — so they can make better, faster, data-driven decisions. Thanks to features like drag-and-drop formatting, dashboard drill-downs, and user-friendly data prep, it enables thousands of enterprises worldwide to turn data into relevant insights in minutes, and produce compelling reports and dashboards that can easily be shared in a secure and governed environment.

The latest release of Cognos Analytics further pushes the envelope of what BI can do by incorporating new capabilities driven by augmented intelligence (AI), machine learning, pattern detection, natural language processing, and data science. New features like an AI conversational assistant, advanced analytics, and AI-recommended visualizations make it a snap to use even for beginners, yet powerful enough for the most demanding data explorer.

This makes it much simpler and easier for anyone in your organization, whether or not they have a technical background in data analysis, to capture the compelling stories about your customers and operations that lie hidden in your data. That’s how your organization can bridge the divide between collecting lots of data and actually doing something with it to propel the business forward.

To learn more about why IBM Cognos Analytics is a BI solution you can trust, click here.

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