‘What is BI?’

and Other Frequently Asked Questions

What is Business Intelligence (BI)?

Business Intelligence (BI) is the collection of applications, tools, and strategies used to analyze and improve business decisions and performance.


What is a BI Dashboard?

A BI Dashboard combines key data points and metrics that represent certain aspects of performance or show the overall snapshot of the company.  BI Dashboards can be personalized for the business and can include historical data to give context.


What is Data Analytics?

Data Analytics is the process of examining data to discover trends and draw conclusions about the information they contain.  This is typically done by businesses and governments with specialized software to easily sort through and evaluate big data to make key decisions.

TDWI Research

Tech Target

What is Predictive Analytics?

Predictive Analytics is the process of gathering historical and current data to predict future behavior and trends.  This process is typically used by businesses to forecast consumer demands, opportunities, risks, or other events through data mining, and statistical modeling.


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What is Data Warehousing?

Data Warehousing is the storage of large amounts of data, which can then be used to run various queries.  The three steps to create a data warehouse are:

  • Extraction: gathering data from a source, or multiple sources
  • Cleaning: combing through data to eliminate errors and ensure consistency
  • Conversion: converting data from a database format to a data warehouse format


From there, you can analyze data based on the metric(s) you are looking for.

(Watson, 2007)


What is Big Data?

Big Data refers to the large amounts of data collected from various sources that can be used for analysis.  Big data can reach into the petabytes and is collected from a wide range of sources such as web traffic, social media interactions, financial transactions, and more.  Companies often utilize big data to learn more about their customers and to develop new products or services to meet or anticipate their needs.

Amazon Web Services


What is Data Mining?

Data Mining is the process of working with large datasets to find useful information.  Businesses can use data they collect to learn more about their customers to develop new products, services, or marketing campaigns.


What are the pros and cons of 'Out-of-the-box' vs. 'Custom' BI Software?

Out-of-the-Box Software

  • Quick installation and use because the software is already developed.
  • Lower upfront cost versus custom software, but typically has a monthly fee which could depend on the number of users.



  • Higher learning curve because the software isn’t designed for your specific needs.
  • Could not meet all requirements, meaning some metrics or features could be left out of the software.
  • Potential compatibility issues mean that you may not be able to bring over all of your data into a single location for analysis.


Custom Software


  • The software is built specifically for your organization, meaning all your requirements will be met.
  • The software can be easily adapted and expanded based on your growth or movement into other industries.
  • You can choose particular metrics to measure, including some that might not be typically used by the competition.



  • Requires a larger up-front cost than out-of-the-box software, but efficiencies will provide additional value in the long run
  • The development time is longer than an out-of-the-box solution because the software is being constructed from scratch.



Both options have unique benefits and drawbacks and allow the user to analyze large amounts of data to gain a better understanding of their customers or of the market as a whole.  No matter which option you choose, it is imperative that you utilize business intelligence software in one way or another.

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