Ask a room full of people to define business intelligence (BI) and there will probably be as many answers as there are people. Some may believe this is a problem; however, to be successful in meeting BI needs today, emerging and enterprise businesses have to accept that it covers a broad range of capabilities.

The typical approach to BI centers on data integration and technology. Using this approach, various source databases are identified, the data is consolidated and aggregated into a data warehouse or data mart so it can be analyzed in the form of an OLAP cube and put into some sort of presentation format. This is only a technical view of what it takes to solve the problem of converting data into information. This approach worked in the past, at high cost. Only the largest companies could afford to invest in this type of technology. To make BI implementations more affordable for emerging and enterprise businesses, a new approach must open the door to the limitless possibilities that can be achieved with all the historical and current data gathered today.

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