Businesses generate and collect large volumes of data from their transactions, about their consumers, suppliers, employees, sales, production, and products. Online businesses generate much more data about logistics, visitors, spending patterns, navigation patterns, competition, reviews; etc. These data can be structured, semi-structured or completely unstructured and move very fast and are too big. Today these data are beyond the processing capacity of most of the systems that existed even 2 years ago! With Big Data and Business Intelligence (BI), businesses can leverage technology like never before to improve operations, boost their profit margins, engage more customers and more better business decisions.
Data is being generated by us daily – whether we know it or not! If we use electricity and water supply, mobile or fixed line phone services, browse the Internet, we are always contributing to data being generated, stored and processed. Some examples are GPS data from vehicles and phones, call records, messages, Social media posts, smart energy meters, and RFID tags and sensors in Vehicles.
Big Data can be described as a combination of very large data sets and data handling tools to store, process and work with such large data sets. Establishing and setting up an effective big data system requires substantial investments in infrastructure, technology and trained personnel who acquire, process, store and perform data analysis. Technologies used for data warehouses and OLAP are very small in front of the Big Data system requirements.
With the help of Big data, engineers can provide clients, governments, companies and social organizations with answers to the questions that even they did not know they wanted to ask! Sample some of such questions –what has been the impact of new ERP on customer acquisition, or how the new HR system has boosted employee performance, or how student reviews translate into more enrollments?
Business intelligence or BI is set of data analysis methods, tools, and software that is undertaken to uncover trends, patterns and insights in business related data. It is able to identify and establish most of the hidden patterns, chains and causal links in processes and their results with help of data analysis. Business Intelligence uses many advanced metrics to identify the impact of practices on customer satisfaction & loyalty, employee performance, brand recognition, lead conversions, media perception, etc.
Business Intelligence is also used to make forecasts, extend trends, establish and play out scenarios and help manager make decision in uncertain conditions. BI relies on the fact that most systems, and people, would continue to behave in the future as they have been behaving in the past and the effects of internal and external stimuli that may change their behavior significantly are measurable.
Business Intelligence is result-oriented and is supposed to produce actionable knowledge and help in decision making. With the ability to visualize tangible and quantifiable results of policy decisions under different scenarios, and the impact of those decisions, business managers can make better informed decisions.
How BI and Big Data Come Together
BI and Big Data analytics combined have transformed and affected a wide range of businesses, industries, government processes and common persons. One of the first and biggest adopters and beneficiaries of BI + Big Data combo were the Online Ecommerce and Online B2C Retail sectors. Pioneers like Amazon, eBay, Alibaba and brick-and-mortar players like Walmart and Costco combined and leveraged both BI and Big Data Analytics to gain deeper understanding about their sales, customers’ behavior, browsing patterns, merchandising and their impact on sales and profits.
Later Big data analytics and Business Intelligence were leveraged by financial institutions, especially insurance companies, banks, mortgage providers, and stockbrokers. Now a days the powerful combo of BI and Big Data is being developed for and utilized by Governments at all levels, schools and universities, real estate companies, small businesses, industries and retail stores. With the advancement in technologies and drastic fall in prices of hardware due to cloud-based services, BI and Big Data platforms are available at very affordable rates and even on pay-per-use models.
BI leverages the big data that can provide raw and semi-processed data and information from internal, external and other related sources of the business. Big Data has become an indispensable resource and integral component for Business Intelligence. You can think of Business Intelligence as an umbrella and the Big Data the strong stem or handle on which the umbrella depends. You can use BI and Big Data for business advantage in:
- Sales analysis
- Inventory analysis
- Consumer analysis
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