16.1. Business Intelligence Overview

16.1.1. Business Intelligence Overview

The term "business intelligence" has been bandied about since the 1990s, but there is still a lot of misunderstanding about what business intelligence means. The term was first popularized in 1989 as an umbrella term describing a diverse set of concepts designed to improve business decision making. Business intelligence is the next evolution of data warehousing and reporting. Where the original concept of data warehousing is primarily concerned with the integration of vast amounts of data across multiple business systems, business intelligence technologies help to gather, analyze, and provide access to that integrated store of data in order to make informed strategic business decisions.

Before the advent of the information age in the twentieth century, businesses often struggled to collect high-quality data. Even as data accumulated, businesses lacked the capability to quickly analyze the data and were forced to make strategic decisions based solely on executive intuition. As businesses started automating themselves, more and more high-quality data became available. Database and data-warehousing technologies were invented to store the vast amounts of data. Timeliness of data has been continuously improved as integration and reporting technologies evolved. Current business intelligence specialists practice the art of sifting through the large amounts of data, extracting the pertinent information, and turning ...

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