Show # 15 – Business Intelligence Tools for Better Business Decisions

Implementing a business intelligence (BI) system requires three basic components: (a) Attention to the availability, form, and reliability of the data, (b) Application of business rules, formulae, or transformations, and (c) presentation in a report, chart, or combination of forms for management. One purpose of BI is exception reporting and recognition. A good BI helps management decide what areas of responsibility require more attention or more drill-down. Even if the information for drill-down comes from other systems (such as the ERP or accounting system), a BI helps management know where to look. The overall goal is to avoid looking in places where there is no issue. A second purpose of BI is to help management identify trends in business. If measurement has been put in place in key areas of the business, a BI will help management bring together these indicators to determine the direction of the business and where attention is needed.
Current buzzwords that are in use for business intelligence type data include dashboards, key performance indicators (KPI), critical success factors (CSF), and balanced scorecards. These terms actually refer to the content of the BI data, not to the BI system, though certain systems provide more tools for these different kinds of data.
To select a tool, begin with an analysis of the data needed for the business intelligence system. Determine if this data is being collected in the current system. If it is being collected, assess the accuracy and timeliness of the data.
Three kinds of tools needed

  • Data manipulation
    • Goal: Trigger knowledge of what to look at in more detail
    • Transactional data needed in summary
    • Need to crosstabulate data (sales of items by salesperson)
    • Need to identify missing data (which items or categories were NOT sold to particular customers)
  • Trend identification (curve fitting or trend analysis, time series analysis)
    • Projections
    • Pivot tables (multiple dimensions of analysis)
  • Graphical presentation
    • portal (presentation)

Other considerations: security, access device
BI products you find everywhere:
Microsoft Office:

Suggestions from Microsoft on when to use ACCESS and when to use EXCEL:
Crystal Reports:
Performance Point server: (requires signin and survey)
BusinessObjects Edge for Small/Midsized business:
Things You Forget discusses keeping your email secure. Brobdingnagian Bards playing Like A Hobbit In A Mushroom Field from Check them out at Download our Guide to Selecting Business Software to help in your ERP Software selection guide at

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