Data Analytics

Business Intelligence Platforms

A person interacts with a transparent digital device labeled "BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE," indicative of advanced Business Intelligence Platforms

Business Intelligence (BI) platforms analyze business data to uncover trends and insights that can be visualized using dashboards to support business decision-making.

Why are Business Intelligence Platforms Important?

Business intelligence platforms make operational business data available to more employees. They remove the need to be a database expert and enable the ability to ask simple questions about the business and see insightful and actionable insights that allow them to make better-informed decisions.

Business intelligence software platforms have evolved from simple data repositories to sophisticated systems capable of predictive analytics and complex data mining. The results of the data analysis are presented as charts that are easy to understand, with the data behind them being refreshed as it changes. Data management solutions manage the transformation of multiple data sources into forms ready for analysis and visualization.

As businesses have become increasingly digital, high volumes of data are created that present an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into business functions and customer behavior. Without modern data management and BI platforms, potentially valuable analytical data would languish in data lakes due to the lack of skilled people with the time to mine it and extract insights.

The Evolution of Business Intelligence

The early business tools created online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes that periodically aggregated and indexed data imported into a data warehouse. This data produced simple tabular reports that could be exported and charted using spreadsheets. This approach did not scale to larger datasets; the data was seldom current.

Early solutions were expensive, so they were mainly used by larger corporations with substantial IT resources and skills in coding reports to build custom reports.

Cloud platforms have significantly lowered the cost of implementing BI solutions so smaller businesses and departmental analysts no longer need to rely on highly trained and skilled centralized IT staff to provide analysis of their operational data. Along with the increasing accessibility to powerful BI platforms, cloud-based user interfaces become easier to use with features like drag-and-drop charting, templates, and natural language queries.

Primary Capabilities of a Business Intelligence Platform

The best business intelligence platforms enable users to perform exploratory data analysis to uncover actionable insights. The section below describes some of the key capabilities that BI platforms possess:

Data Connectivity

A Business Intelligence platform needs to be able to access a wide variety of data sources. This capability can be built into the BI platform or, better still, achieved through a more comprehensive data integration technology. The data integration technology must clean and transform raw data into a form that the BI platform can quickly assimilate, such as that stored in a structured data warehouse.

Data Visualization Tools

Data-driven insights are most readily understandable and consumed visually as charts and diagrams. Clustering data points, trends and interesting deviations are easy to see. Dynamic dashboards, charts, and graphs allow business leaders to grasp complex data sets quickly without lengthy explanations. A picture can be worth a thousand words.

Predictive Analytics

Built in predictive models can analyze trends in historical data and use it to project various potential future outcomes to support proactive decision-making.

AI-Driven Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Business Intelligence solutions use natural language chat-style dialogs to allow non-technical users not skilled in structured query language (SQL) query writing to construct complex queries easily.

Templates and In-App Marketplaces

BI users can use template dashboards for business functions such as customer or sales analysis to gain a head start on their analytic projects. BI vendors provide templates and create a marketplace for partners and customers to share them.

The Benefits of a Business Intelligence Platform

BI platforms have evolved to become an essential element for decision support in most businesses. Below are some of the reasons for their prevalence:

  • BI platforms allow a business to make better informed operational and strategic decisions that capitalize on emerging opportunities and avoid potential risks by providing visibility into likely outcomes.
  • BI platforms can apply elastic computing resources to turn large volumes of operational data into meaningful insights.
  • Many BI solutions include data preparation technology for data collection, cleaning, transformation, and integration into a data warehouse.
  • BI solutions can connect data from related systems to create a holistic view of business functions such as customer service interactions, sales performance, and supply chains.
  • Business growth can be sustained using BI technology to forecast market trends and threats.
  • BI dashboards are interactive, so users can drill down to explore data in great detail.
  • BI platforms enable confident, data-driven decisions.
  • Shared dashboards increase collaboration across the business so different lines of business can focus resources to improve the success of joint initiatives.

The Action Data Platform is the Perfect Complement to a BI Platform

The Actian Data Platform makes BI solutions more effective by adding superior data warehousing, quality control, integration, and pipeline management. The Actian Data Platform supports all BI platforms to augment their data management capabilities.

More than 10,000 customers trust Actian with their data. Giving you the flexibility to deploy workloads anywhere—cloud, on-premises, or hybrid environments.

Get started with a free trial of the Actian Data Platform here.