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Explore the literature and produce a 1 000 word document (about 4 pages) which looks at the progressive fulfilment of the need business intelligence within the enterprise and its future direction. Consider this from the perspective of the needs of the enterprise of many sizes and its future opportunities not from the view of technical development. You will need to evaluate and critically appraise your material.
Business intelligence is a term that refers to a collection of software applications which are used to analyse an organization’s raw data. In order to do so, business intelligence tools interface with the operational processes and already implemented software applications that extract data from various data sources within an organization. In essence it succeeds to merge the analytical and operational processes into a new management decision making tool.
One may ask the simple question: Why do companies need business intelligence? The main reason why all types of companies whether large or small need business intelligence is to improve decision making in order to cut costs and more important to identify new business opportunities. The major benefit of business intelligence is to identify inefficient business processes that need re-engineering. The basic difference between business intelligence and traditional transaction based systems is that it greatly simplifies and facilitates analysis. For example business intelligence systems make it much easier to identify managerial or business malpractices and ineffective processes, which is not so easy to do using traditional transaction based systems. The beauty of business intelligence is that this software system allow the users to analyse the operational processes through the traditional operational systems.
Another major justification for the use of business intelligence system is that it enables top management to take strategic decisions. According to Mulcahy. (2007) restaurant chains such as McDonald, Hardee, T.G.I. Friday, through the use of business intelligence are able to take decisions in the introduction of new products in their menus, which food items are to be removed and to be aware constantly of the changing tastes of their customers. Other benefits pertaining to the same industry is the capacity to re-negotiate with their products suppliers, the respective supply contracts. A similar situation is also applicable to the automotive industry, which in this case the supply contracts mainly refer to steel, paint, rubber, textile and IT parts.
There is one crucial component of business intelligence namely business analytics which is essential to the success of the companies using the said software. When organizations use analytics as an engine to perform the organizational processes and work flows it becomes the process per se. By doing so organizations are able to capture the business events and identifies the rules to perform the business organizational process.
So far we have been all praise for business intelligence. But business intelligence does introduce several challenges when it is implemented in organisations. Once such challenge is the architectural boundaries of current software solutions. It is not always easy or straightforward to extract data from current software solutions to integrate them within the business intelligence environment. The large volume of data also has a significant impact on operational BI systems. Although storage is always becoming cheaper, moving and processing large volumes of data calls for efficient processes and specialised techniques and skills.
The need for real time information without negatively influence the performance of existing processes is also a serious challenge to be overcome. In fact one of the biggest challenges in the area of business intelligence is moving from the well-established data warehousing to the creation of a real time data warehouse. New technological innovations are necessary to ensure the smooth running between the traditional data warehousing and the real time data warehousing. Other major problems encountered by organisations which introduces business intelligence is the employee user resistance, however in this day and age of high unemployment this problem is not problematic as it used to be. More significant is the barrier of voluminous amount of irrelevant data and poor data quality. Data is the most fundamental component of any business intelligence enterprise. One must not forget that any insight and other information obtained from BI is based on data. Another potential problem in the implementation of BI is that most companies may not understand their business process well enough to determine, how to improve them. A corollary of this problem is that if the profit level remains relatively good, most of executives do not venture into unknown territory and high expense to implement business intelligence. Also the quality of the IT department may offer other difficulties if the staff concerned is not sufficiently academically qualified and also does not have the amount of resources necessary for the implementation of BI.
As discussed in the first section, the insight that business intelligence tools can provide to a business can be huge, irrespective of the size of the business. However, although business intelligence tools can help with organisations of any size, it is very important that before a decision to implement business intelligence is taken a careful analysis is made. In this analysis one needs to understand the benefits that business intelligence will add to the specific business practice and compare this with the software costs, and the time cost of implementation.
Business intelligence future is promising with new tools, which are still evolving. Data Discovery tools in comparison with traditional tools are faster, easier to install and user friendly. Social media business intelligence facilitates the analysis of specific user’s comments, messages and profiles. In the future operational business intelligence might be the trend of the day. Mobile business intelligence will continue to develop on smartphones so that the users will be able to interactively analyse the data and take the appropriate decisions from their comfortable location. Software upgrades will be required to make existing software handle more big data since it is increasing rapidly. Companies will rely more on Cloud Business intelligence using the software / platform as service. According to Sagar. (2013) Analytic Appliances such as fraud detection systems will depend more on business intelligence. Prescriptive analysis is utilized by enterprises in order to ensure a more predictable growth path by using mathematical models.
The future opportunities which have implemented BI is to identify flawed business processes which hinder organisational growth, the identification of cost cutting indications, the indications of new business opportunities and more importantly the quick reaction to modify supply and demand shortcomings in order to optimize price.
Mulcahy, R. (2007) Business Intelligence Definition and Solutions.
Available at: http://www.cio.com/article/40296/Business_Intelligence_Definition_and_Solutions. [Accessed 24 October 2013]
Sagar, D. (2013) Business Intelligence – Future Trends.
Available at: http://blogs.perficient.com/businessintelligence/2013/08/09/business-intelligence-future-trends/. [Accessed 24 October 2013].
Computerworld, (2006) How Companies Are Implementing Business Intelligence Competency Centers BICCs. April. p. 17. [Online] Available at: http://www.computerworld.com/pdfs/SAS_Intel_BICC.pdf [Accessed 24 October 2013].
Eckerson, W. (2007) Operational business intelligence or bust! Available at: http://apps.teradata.com/tdmo/v07n04/Features/OperationalBusinessIntelligence.aspx
Palmer, E. (2012) Why Any Industry Can Benefit from Business Intelligence Solutions. Available at: http://blog.lancetsoftware.com/business-intelligence/why-any-industry-can-benefit-from-business-intelligence-solutions. [Accessed 24 October 2013].
James,P. and Lachlan, J. (2013). How organization size affects Business Intelligence goals, deployments, adoption and success. Available at: http://www.yellowfinbi.com/YFCommunityNews-How-organization-size-affects-Business-Intelligence-goals-deployments-adoption-a-142925#sthash.xMybKzqP.[Accessed 24 October 2013].