When I first heard the term "business intelligence," I thought of business espionage and the gathering of competitors’ trade secrets. Over the last few years, I have seen the increase in the usage of the term business intelligence in various forms of print media to describe software products or service offerings. In many cases, I found it somewhat difficult to understand their connotation of the term. Is it software, or is it the process of gathering business information? In either case, what I hope to provide you is an understanding of the term.

From a data analysis perspective, business intelligence is the process of gathering high-quality and meaningful information about the subject matter being researched that will help the individual(s) analyzing the information draw conclusions or make assumptions. For example, one could gather business intelligence on the precious metals industry by conducting research on who mines and processes precious metals, what public markets trade precious metals and what factors influence the valuation and volume of trading of precious metals. All of this information would provide you with an overall understanding of the industry, which you would not have had unless the analysis had been conducted. In addition, you should have sufficient information to assess the viability of investing in precious metals as well as the associated risks.

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