Business Intelligence

The renowned Gartner Group defines Business Intelligence as the process to transform data into information and acquire knowledge by analysis and interpretation in order to benefit stategically. This area arose in the mid 1990's since many managers realised that in their company a lot of data was being registered, but very little decision supporting information was available.

When Business Intelligence is regarded from a wider perspective it is the continuing process in which organisations gather and register data in a structured way before analysing these and applying resulting knowledge during decision-making processes to improve the company's performance.


Gartner Group defines Business Intelligence in 1996 as follows …

making sound business decisions based on accurate and current information takes more than intuition. Data analysis, reporting, and query tools can help business users wade through a sea of data to synthesize valuable information from it - today these tools collectively fall into a category called Business Intelligence.

Source: Gartner Group report, September, 1996

The term Business Intelligence can be seen as an active process in which
knowledge is acquired of the business.

When Business Intelligence is regarded from a wider perspective it is the continuing process in which organisations gather and register data in a structured way before analysing these and applying resulting knowledge during decision-making processes to improve the company's performance.

IT plays an important role during data gathering from often disparate systems, during the cleansing and integration phase, and last but certainly not least, during the presentation an distribution phase within the organisation.

A decade later

Ten years later in 2006 Gartner Group stated that …

Understanding the organisation's indicators and goals are elementary for a BI-initiative to be successful. Many organisations face the risk of failure by focussing too much on technology.

Source: Business Intelligence: een goede raad van Gartner: denk aan business, niet aan technologie

Business Intelligence means far more than the distribution of information in the shape of reports, queries and on-line analyses allowing managers to make better decisions. BI is about gaining a greater business impact, positive changes and better performance from different groups of employees, aside from supporting processes, applications and the organisation as well as the technology that enables this. Good organisations look at their business goals and use a business-oriented method in order to determine and fine-tune their strategies regarding personnel, processes, technology and services.

Nowadays the term Business Intelligence is no longer very distinctive, so several variations are evolving. Some of which are Enterprise Intelligence, Marketing Intelligence en Industry Intelligence. There is no need to explain the meaning of these terms.

And as expected, after introducing web 2.0 the new and improved Business Intelligence 2.0 …

The new era of BI, which is already here, goes far beyond data and reporting. BI is becoming proactive, real-time, operational, integrated with business processes, and extending beyond the boundaries of the organization. To become pervasive and grow out of its reporting niche, BI has to provide simple, personal analytical tools on an as-needed basis with a minimal footprint and cost.

Source: IntelligentEnterprise : Business Intelligence 2.0: Simpler, More Accessible, Inevitable

Worldwide sales of business intelligence software grew a staggering 22% in 2008, according to Gartner, proving that many companies see BI as a good investment during tough economic times. Gartner included sales of BI platforms (or suites), analytic applications, and performance management software in its analysis.

Source: BI Market Grows 22% In Tough Economy (June 12th, 2009)


The Business Intelligence software market is still growing. Just before the credit crunch started, expectations were that BI would grow 12 percent per year until 2012. Early 2009, Gartner added that the entire market would still grow, but revenues of large BI software providers would come to a standstill caused by:

  • more and more smaller companies taking a share of the market
  • BI-applications are partly integrated in software like e-mail and spreadsheets
  • and cheap Web 2.0 application being used as a BI-tool

Gartner Group also stressed that many BI-applications are integrated in existing software making the acquisition of separate BI-products unnecessary. This puts the growth figures in this IT area in perspective as this market was characterised by ever growing expectations and enormous growth rates until recently.

In spite of what was said above, the supply side of the market has consolidated around only a few companies. Big players like SAP (including acquired Business Objects), Oracle, IBM and Microsoft call the shots. On the demand side more and more companies no longer see BI as a hype requiring them to buy new tools, and focus on proven technology BI-software. The numerous failures of BI-related projects makes them hesitant. The cause of failure being people and not technology in the majority of cases.

Source: Wat is Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence tools

As expected and what was made clear in the above text, not the tool but the project approach is crucial for the success of a Business Intelligence initiative, ideally leading to a Business Intelligence Competence Center.

What is important is that a BI-tool provides sufficient functionality to develop good Business Intelligence applications. These allow for information being available more timely, showing more cohesion and clear insight into cause and consequence, and delivering structured reports but in a flexible format.

eQTeam has experience with these quality BI-tools:

  • SAP/Business Objects
  • Oracle Business Intelligence
  • Microsoft Business Intelligence

Like every year Gartner directed an extensive investigation to come up with the 2010 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms. Summarised it states that in 2009, the megavendors held almost 2/3 of business intelligence platform market share. It was also noted however that impatient business users increasingly turned to pure-play BI platforms, supplied by often small innovative vendors, to fill usability and time-to-value needs that were unmet by the larger vendors.

Source: Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms, Rita L. Sallam, Bill Hostmann, James Richardson, Andreas Bitterer, 29 January 2010

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