From the CEO down to the lowest levels of any organization, every minute of the day someone is making a decision that has an impact on the company's performance. Sometimes a decision is at a very high strategic level that affects the fate of the entire organization, and other times a decision might be narrowly defined and tactical, affecting a single person or department for a very short window of time. When taken together, these decisions make up a significant portion of the "day in the life" at any given organization, be it a company, governmental agency, or nonprofit organization.
In spite of the dramatic advances in technology and tools that aid in the decision-making process, however, far too many people still make decisions the old-fashioned way: by blending a gumbo of tidbits of current information, best recollections of the past, advice from others, and a whole lot of "gut instinct," and then assessing which path is likely to give the best possible outcome for the decision at hand.
Decisions drive organizations. Making a good decision at a critical moment may lead to a more efficient operation, a more profitable enterprise, or perhaps a more satisfied customer. So it only makes sense that the companies that make better decisions are more successful in the long run.
That's where business intelligence comes in.
Business intelligence is defined in various ways (our chosen definition is in the next section). For the moment, though, ...