In this column, we will discuss how different products in the software category known as "business intelligence tools" each play a role in your strategic information architecture. Gartner Inc., an information technology research firm, coined the term business intelligence during the 1990s. Business intelligence (BI) generally refers to the information that is garnered from the raw data companies collect from their various processes. Because data in its raw form can only offer so much information, companies are increasingly electing to use business intelligence software to realize that data's full potential. BI software is comprised of specialized computer programs that allow an enterprise to easily aggregate, manipulate and display data as information.
For example, consider the data collected for each item that is sold at a supermarket. Tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of transactions of raw data are collected at the checkout counter every single day. If one looks at this transactional data in its raw form, it will give basic information such as which item was sold, when it was sold, and its selling price. However, by implementing BI software, the supermarket can turn that raw product data into information and use that information to gain more profound insight into their business. So, in addition to determining how many containers of milk were sold on any given day, the supermarket can determine "bigger picture" insight such as how many dairy products were sold compared to canned goods; the supermarket's best and worst selling products by department; the top-five ranked retailers; etc.
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