Is BI a ‘thing’ or is it just advanced reporting?

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It is considered quite the contentious subject and tends to ruffle a few feathers when asked to define what BI (Business Intelligence) is. A lot of businesses rely on the fact that a large portion of the market recognises BI as a standalone technology that requires it’s own set of systems, while another school of thought sees it as a maturation of standard reporting. It depends on what school of thought you fall into, but as for us we don’t discriminate BI from reporting.

In our experience, professionals don’t seek help by searching for BI solutions, but rather they look for a company that can help them with their reporting. At e-magination Infosolutions we see BI as the product of the evolution of reporting, and we can help businesses use Excel to get there.

BI or reporting, how did it become so separate?

You’re probably wondering how it is that they come to be thought of as different problems requiring different (and sometimes standalone) systems if they are essentially the same thing. It can be as simple as your perspective and a misinformation of terminology. Depending on your perspective: what is actually just a network of Excel workbooks is a ‘Reporting System’ to you. Similarly we look at ‘reporting’ as having the possibility of maturing into advanced reporting which we call BI.

A lot of people get derailed when they hear acronyms or keywords, and thus misunderstanding terminology is very prevalent in Business to IT. Thinking that only tools such as Qlikview and Tableau, that run outside your system, are BI solutions and that your current Excel software can’t get you what you need is a common myth that we will happily ‘bust’ for you.

What Business Intelligence is really:

BI is a collection of activities and technologies that gives you the unified view of your business that allows you to look at your business from any level and drill down into the details so that you can dissect a segment of it.  With this definition you can start to open your mind to the possibility that you can view Excel or any report that is able to give you data in a certain cross view of your business functions as a source of Business Intelligence.

The key word is intelligence, as it must answer your fundamental questions as well as the more advanced business questions, such as: where are the issues, and what is the health state of your business today.

Excel can start you on your journey to BI within the Microsoft Family

Instead of looking for BI answers outside the family of technology that you are fluent and comfortable in using, Microsoft, rather let us help you mature your information needs and make it easier for you to see what is happening in your business from your datas point of view. Using Excel as your BI system means that you can easily scale up your information needs within the Microsoft family, as the solutions that we build in Power BI and PowerPivot actually resemble the same design functions we apply when building large data warehouse projects.

So don’t exclude Excel when you’re thinking BI, let us help you mature your reporting systems so that you too can enter the world of Business Intelligence. Let us know if you’d like to get in contact about BI for your business.

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