Let's get this joke out of the way right now. Business intelligence is indeed an oxymoron at many companies.

You've worked for that company before, or maybe you work there now. That company is a boat on top of an ocean of data that they're unable to dip their cups into and drink. And because they're so out of tune with the data flowing through their systems, they base their decisions on gut feel rather than facts and history. The most common analysis tool is a spreadsheet. They take wild stabs in the dark at what the long-term trends look like for sales, or profit, or some other measurement. And speaking of measurement, they often measure the wrong things entirely; they look at numbers that have little or no relationship to the long-term success of the business.

Welcome to Business Intelligence For Dummies, a book written for people in organizations that want to break the cycle of business stupidity. If you picked this book up off the shelf, you've probably heard of BI but aren't sure what it means. Sure, it's got the feel of another one of those techno-buzzwords that will fade out of fashion in a few years.

But BI is here to stay. And this book is for executives and managers dying to learn more about the technologies, tools, processes, and trends that make up business intelligence. It's for business people who need a way to derive business insights that are accurate, valuable, timely, and can be acted upon to positively influence the enterprise.

Maybe you've heard talk ...

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