Business Intelligence (BI) technologies provide historical, current and predictive views of business operations. BI can be used to support a wide range of business decisions ranging from operational to strategic. Basic operating decisions include product positioning or pricing. Strategic business decisions include priorities, goals and directions at the broadest level. In all cases, BI is most effective when it combines data derived from the market in which a company operates (external data) with data from company sources internal to the business such as financial and operations data (internal data). When combined, external and internal data can provide a more complete picture which, in effect, creates an “intelligence” that cannot be derived by any singular set of data.
Some considerations must be made in order to successfully integrate the usage of business intelligence systems in a company. Ultimately the BI system must be accepted and utilized by the users in order for it to add value to the organization. If the usability of the system is poor, the users may become frustrated and spend a considerable amount of time figuring out how to use the system or may not be able to really use the system. If the system does not add value to the users´ mission, they simply don’t use it.
To increase user acceptance of a BI system, it can be advisable to consult business users at an early stage of the requirements gathering phase. This can provide an insight into the business process and what the users need from the BI system. There are several methods for gathering this information, such as questionnaires and interview sessions.
When gathering the requirements from the business users, the local IT department should also be consulted in order to determine to which degree it is possible to fulfill the business’s needs based on the available data.