ITM501 - Management Information Systems and Business Strategy Module 2 Case Assignment: Business Intelligence Systems
04 June 2010
Business intelligence: Definition
Business Intelligence (BI) is defined by IBM as, “the discipline that combines services, applications and technologies to gather, manage and analyze data, transforming it into usable information to develop insight and understanding needed to make informed decisions.” (IBM.com, 2006) In its most basic form, BI is an umbrella principle that synergizes the core understanding of your business, including all of its facets, and acting on what that foundation is made up of. The quality of your BI traditionally depended on the experience of your people. However, recently it has become a “stand-alone” discipline in the realm of Information Technology management. With the advent of computing and computers, the amount of useful and usable data in business has skyrocketed. Complex analyses have become common-place and the turn around for information products are expected in far shorter time than even the most capable human analyst could provide. These two factors have led to building up the branch of IT focused on storing vast amounts of data and more importantly, making it usable to businesses. Information and Analyses Provided
BI software is available in as many colors of the rainbow. Some software is very problem specific and some generic and adaptable. The common thread that ties all this BI software together is data storage and extraction. Most important to the software’s usefulness is how the presentation / representation to the end user; the analysis of data, modeling, and finally how that data can be visualized. The most basic analysis will provide trend indications, such as an increase of profits for retail activities toward the Christmas holidays. This type of trend analysis is available from common programs such as Microsoft® Excel. More complex, multi-variable analysis requires relational database software scaled for the size of data and frequency/complexity of analysis requested. Applications can specialize in bookkeeping, inventory control, human resources management, and other processes. The advanced applications can link and correlate – for example – number of customers to profits and personnel turn-over.
A successful BI application will also handle mixed workload, balancing complicated, long-range analyses with simple, immediate queries, and make information available on schedule (e.g. quarterly reports) and on demand (e.g. how customer purchase patterns changed after an unexpected change in interest rates). It’s important that the software be responsive and customizable to allow users to, “formulate their own questions and rapidly get answers.” (Imhoff, 2007) System Requirements (Hardware and Software)
To run a successful BI program (as a whole) it’s best run as an enterprise-level solution (not on individual PCs). Server hardware is available from most major computer manufacturers (IBM, Dell, HP, Apple, and others) online, via computer consultants (including consulting services from the various computer companies) or at computer retailers. Servers typically run operating systems from Microsoft® or Unix-based (variations of which are Linux, Solaris, and others). Choice of hardware and software may be made independently (sun.com, 2007), though some hardware is “optimized” for use with certain applications (IBM.com, 2007). Many times a company can buy a BI “package” – hardware / software / installation and most importantly – training. Major Vendors
IBM® provides both hardware and software to manage companies’ business intelligence (BI) needs. They offer a range of hardware in three major categories directed at small, mid-sized, and large businesses. IBM’s hardware solution focuses on the “Balanced Configuration Unit”, modular / customizable building blocks which include data...