ABSTRACT This paper illustrates the concept of Business Intelligence as a stored knowledge of the company that can be developed and organized for better and effective decision making process. It synthesizes the concept of business intelligence and introduces the BI information system software that can harness all the needed information and data for decision makers. This process is placed in the context of mid size companies in Saudi Arabia for them to gain competitive advantage.
The methodology of the research is qualitative hence secondary resources such books, reference materials, on line articles on BI, IT journals on PDF served as the basis of discussion. Five people were also interviewed to solicit their personal views regarding BI systems on their decisions making process. The findings of the study revealed that mid size companies in Saudi Arabia lack the proper knowledge and orientation on BI solution. Their market position has been heavily affected because of their incapacity to provide their firms with Information Technology based BI solution.
In the recommendation, the author suggested practical approaches as well as theoretical solution to upgrade their company’s competitive advantage. I – Introduction The world’s business environment today needs accurate, reliable, and well founded information and reporting so that consumers and producers are always updated on the current global at local financial situation. Hence, several enterprise and IT software are assiduously spearheading an advanced solution to meet the business demands. But very little attention has been given to delivery methods for business intelligence content, classic report generation, and production.
Business intelligence concept is swarming the industry and several financial institutions are talking about it in the grapevine. Business intelligence has become a passion to several company managers and searching to find out the BI concept. New as it is in the financial industry, business intelligence application has already been a solution to many offices and homes before it was finally compressed as a soft ware. As businesses became more competitive and each one sought for competitive advantage, a need for superior application and technology started to be highly in demand.
Cindi Howson (2008) believes that the purpose of BI solution is to assist enterprise users with excellent spreadsheets, reporting, auditing, business strategies and implementations. Business Intelligence solution is known in the industry today as the latest and superior application in information technology. R. L. Fielding (2008) on the other hands pointed out that information technology is seemingly unstoppable and the longer it stays in the industry it continues to show greater impact in the business environment.
That is why competition is concentrated on how to establish a stronger information system that could keep up with the competitive environment. Aside from the Soft ware Application Program (SAP), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), Personal Digital Assistance (PDA) and many more, the IT environment recently added the Business Intelligence (BI) solution on its market offerings. This paper is an attempt to illustrate one of the superior applications for gathering, analyzing, computing, and providing access to data known today as Business Intelligence solution.
It aims to gather and present relevant facts about the BI solutions that would contribute to the general perception of this new tool in the IT market today. This report is worth reading because at the core of every competitive business intelligence approaches is a solid reporting solution. This paper unearths once again the recent innovations in a concrete reporting solution and the new innovations in reporting technology. 111. Review of Related Literatures This chapter contains the discussion on the literature of Business Intelligence and its application to the midsize firms.
It covers the topic on the concept of Business Intelligence, its function, and the benefits that can be derived from it. Section 1 – Concept of Business Intelligence In every long term strategic planning, many companies considered data collection and analysis as a fundamental activity. Big companies that strive to achieve a sustainable advantage over their competition made use of information management system to help them analyze their data. These activities have evolved to what is now known as business intelligence of BI. R.
L Fielding (2008) reiterates that Business Intelligence is a thorough and holistic analysis of the company records, data, information, and software application for effective decision making. All decision making processes need an organized, readily-accessible, and human readable compilations of data. With the use of an effective tool the firm can easily figure out their own business processes, the behavior of their customers, and the economic trend of the industry. With these facts, the firm can arrive at a better strategy to achieve their specified goals with confidence.
Fielding (2008) also added that the three possible stages of business intelligence can be broken down into raw data, information, and knowledge. Raw data is gathered and processed into information. The information are filtered and arranged into a meaningful pattern. The knowledge form from data analysis serves as the business intelligence of the company. According to Andy Graham (2008) good business intelligence means balance information. Data are not useful when there are too little or too much inputs.
The company then could concentrate on most important improvements they want to implement by putting a reasonable limit on the gathering of information. Business intelligence (BI) is not just a technology. In the minds of Fielding (2009), Graham, (2008), and Howson (2008) IT specialists claim that BI needs the proper organizational development set-up as well as correct procedures in clarifying the firms’ organizational goals, performance requirements, key performance indicators (KPIs) and many more. BI started as a concept that branches out into several technology centers, processes and concept.
BI is no ordinary application neither it is simply installed in the computer for it to work. Cindi Howson (2008) clarified that “BI can be difficult to structure because an effective BI project teams, develop the right BI applications, manage business-IT communications and measure BI success. Therefore, companies who are trying to immerse into the BI concept should work on to developing and optimizing successful BI applications and get best practices for structuring BI teams and managing business-IT communication” (webpage 1).
Andy Graham (2008) clarified that many companies aspire to gain more space in the market once they have successfully learned the whole concept of business intelligence applications. However, there are some difficulties among IT professionals and practitioners especially on how to create effective and efficient BI applications that users can work on easily without committing mistakes and would show more benefits between the organization and their own rank and file.
The increases in many companies’ market spending and major vendors especially in the acquisitions of BI prove only that several firms are getting more and more inclined in BI on the corporate and enterprise level. It was not a big surprise after all. It is presumed that BI’s popularity has something to do with the broad spectrum of its application and contribution to the growth in the company’s production and improvement in its business process.
Business intelligence support system is totally a great help to improve daily activities in decision making especially when confronted with the financial status of the business and its market positioning. In adopting the business intelligence strategy, the company has to determine the goals it wants to reach. Once the goal has been established, it is opportune to improve the entire decision making process and to target the most important areas of the business. In order to smooth the progress of their efforts, the company can choose from variety of business intelligence products on the market today.
The most common BI tools are data warehouses, text mining, data visualization, score carding, and Online Analytical Processing (OLAP). These tools are intended to sort out raw data and contribute to the formation of effective decision for the company. Normally when these tools are used together, they can come up with more compelling results. If data and document warehouses are used to track the company’s inventory, it can be linked to show the past sales trend and consumer’s opinion regarding their products or services.
Hence, decision makers are equipped with available information to support the decision based on their understanding of the market situation. In a speech delivered by Bill Hostmann (2008), vice president and distinguished analyst with Stamford, Conn. -based Gartner Inc. , commented that in the early stages of a BI deployment, most companies’ measure value based on IT-centric, quantifiable criteria, including improved operational efficiency and minimized total cost of ownership. In this sense, BI once incorporated into he company’s operation could guarantee not only reduction on cost of production but also on a wider margin of profitability for the firm. It is quite understandable to know that BI is gaining leadership the IT market to date. It is my belief that BI would improve human’s thinking capabilities because BI does not rely on automatic feeding of information. Section 2 – Essential features of Business Intelligence BI is fast becoming popular because of the compatibility assurance that it gives to the existing software the firms may already have.
Noe Gutierrez (2008) assailed that because of BI multi functional capabilities, BI systems are often referred to as the successor to “decision support systems” and most often facilitate various kinds of enterprise reporting. It analyzes data and provides scientific solutions to the prevailing market difficulties of some firms. The BI application gathered data from other applications and synthesize the output. Gutierrez (2008) added that BI is also compatible with corporate performance management, known to many corporate as the enterprise performance management (EPM) or business performance management (BPM).
This system application refers to the processes and technology used to monitor and manage an organization’s performance, often by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and other operational metrics. In cases where this system failed and the need to an immediate replacement is urgent, the BI is hassle free support. Another function of BI according to Garris (2008) is to support the data warehouse which is the central repository for a subset of data that an enterprise’s various business systems collect.
Originally, this application was usually the data recorder and act as the inner storehouse that integrates, cleanses and reconciles data used for BI analysis. Who can forget the executive dashboard where the user and the system have visual exchange especially when the data are Web-based and oftentimes came out with a BI data warehouse on the front line to organize and present information easy to read, interpret, plan, and implemented. Like an automobile’s dashboard, executive dashboards with BI components appeared with graphical features, such as color-coding, gauges and charts.
Some people based on the observation of Garris (2008) may no longer be familiar with the on-demand or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business intelligence systems that delivers the ability to perform on a hosted platform organized, arranged, and managed by the BI vendor. Its objective was to save space for the staff. The best analogy for this BI function is to picture it with a multi-tenant architecture, as opposed to hosted, single tenant occupancy. The BI can accommodate several vendors and finds compatibility for its application.
Added to these features is the BI used for operation which is very practical in the functionality for the different level of managerial functions including the front-line operational workers. According to Howson, (2008) an operational BI provides updated information to the firm’s rank and file. This type of metric is very important to knowledge management and to the business process that is so concerned about data used for decision making. Instead of cramming and historical panicking every time new challenges appeared in the market, BI users find more competencies in managing the situation.
Fielding (2008) and Gutierrez (2008) stated that with so many interfaces BI make for every system, another device was created in order to manage the business operation through the application of business activity monitoring (BAM). However, Gutierrez (2008) emphasized that BAM is connected to the implementation of technology and to recognize important business events so that company could act in response to the situation more effectively and appropriately. The function of BAM is to assist the firms to distinguish, to react and to decide what would be the best approach to the ongoing market situation at the soonest possible time.
The company implementing BI at the same time can focus attention on the underlying impact of the market failure as well as market growth to the entire organization and business in particular. One Business Intelligence case study entitled, “On-demand Business Intelligence application fits Casual Male “ by Hannah Smalltree (2008), stressed the fact that companies such as Casual Male are turning to on-demand software for their BI needs, drawn by low start-up costs and minimal IT investment.
Casual Male needed a better way to plan inventory, understand customer’s buying attitudes and behavior, and track the fruit of catalog mailings. The company looked at traditional BI software but turned it down due to price and implementation requirements. Hannah Smalltree continued that the company wanted better reporting capabilities for its direct catalog and Web sales. So they set up the platform, a hosted warehouse that integrates data from eCometry and a small other slight source systems via an overnight batch upload process.
The warehouse covers data quality checks, which append incomplete fields or flag data discrepancies. Casual Male has 40,000 active stock-keeping units (SKUs) or kinds of merchandise on its system. With this huge application, the task is not that simple and easy. On top of the data warehouse, Casual Male layered its BI reporting and key performance indicator (KPI) module, which the company’s accesses over the Web and the system never failed them and kept running for about six weeks.
For a short run period, the company saw positive growth as compared to where they were before BI application (Smalltree, 2008, webpage). For the beginning of BI application at Casual Male, the firm’s merchandisers and business planner were adamant to buy the idea that the new application would work. These people who were involved in coordinate planning, corporate inventory and company purchasing showed little interest on BI. Some of them would not accept the change and preferred the primitive manual ways of doing business analysis.
However, they were astounded to receive the report of increased production, distribution, and sales of their clothes both outside and inside the company’s show room and display center. Hannah Smalltree submitted last December 2007 her paper on “Business Intelligence case study: Suzuki revs up retail reporting”, that Suzuki was now accepting bidders and buyers on the company’s motorcycle and power sports division but has plan to revamp its own business intelligence system application which will commence just in time for the summer relaxation centers.
Having enough data has never been the problem in BI but the lack of data would certainly affect its investigation after all. Another paper of Smalltree (2007) is the “Business Intelligence case study: Hospital BI helps healthcare. ’ The report stated that before implementing business intelligence software, Jefferson Medical Center lacks the capabilities to monitor employee’s productivity and task performance.
The hospital believed it could improve care and lower costs if it could measure productivity more effectively. The hospital’s wish was granted when after implementing the BI software application, their productivity turned up higher by fifty percent. Business Intelligence software offers the facts to assist companies to seriously watch monitor and review their operation and business processes. By doing so, the firm can make sound and healthy decisions based on in depth analysis and accurate data generated from the BI.