In essence, business intelligence is the use of technologies to help organisations make better decisions. Whether these decisions be strategic, tactical or purely operational, having access to the right information at the right time in the right format is essential for sound judgement to be exercised on any business problem.
As a sole-trader or small business, this type of knowledge tends to get built inside information silos that are employees, individuals, people. Professional subject matter experts with the ability to analyse, understand and decide on the best and most appropriate course of action to help solve a particular problem.
As the size of an organisation begins to increase, different forms of information silos begin to exist, the majority being data that resides in business information systems. The barriers to organisational productivity and informational insight that data based systems are intended to address are often only exacerbated by technology in the short term. People still make a phone call, send an email or ask directly for information that organisational stakeholders tend to hold the keys to. For example, there are millions (probably billions) of spreadsheets worldwide that are ‘owned’ by an individual who is the knowledge holder and sometimes worse, for a database, where an organisations already over burdened I.T. department get left with the challenge of providing access to data (and you thought those guys spent all day getting paid to surf the web?).
The market for business intelligence is currently massive and growing – the business opportunity is certainly there to help improve organisations by providing business insights to all employees leading to better, faster, more relevant decisions.