What Is Business Intelligence?

The term Business Intelligence (BI) easily confused with some related processes. These include data analytics, big data and data science. Business Intelligence or SQL Business Intelligence (BI) helps users derive actionable intelligence/information from analyzing available data through software tools. These tools, Business Intelligence software, help business managers take better decisions. Sometimes, these insights can provide a completely new business decision or tactic that would not have been obvious otherwise. These tools came as an improvement of the decision support systems that were in widespread use in the sixties to the eighties.

The BI tools need to operate on data derived externally, for example about the products of the business and their behavior in the market (both own and competitors’). Data, internal to the company, such as financial and operations data are useful for analysis and derivation of the business insights. Often about 80% of the data in the business intelligence domain can be unstructured and the tools should be able to analyze them with ease. These SQL Business Intelligence (BI) tools let you discover relations between the available data and help drive the decision making through these insights developed. Strategic decisions would typically include identifying the way forward for a business and long-term goals while tactical decision making would cover such operational issues like determining pricing and market position of the company product. The following formal definition of BI is attributed to Howard Dresner. He defines Business Intelligence as “concepts and methods to improve business decision making by using fact-based support systems.” The concepts and tools are usually lumped together as analytics or data analytics in the SQL Server BI tools available in the market.

The features available in order of higher business value delivered by these Business Intelligence (BI) tools include a set of reporting functions at the bottom of the pyramid. These just provide business owners with reports that indicate what happened to the business during a given period. Analysis functions on top of these reporting tools describe reasons behind these happenings. These and part of the next level function, described as monitoring (of current events), are supported by basic statistical functions in the SQL Business Intelligence (BI) product offerings. Next level of outcomes from the system would support forecasting functions. Regression analysis techniques are useful here.

Predictive functions of the SQL Server BI tools attempt to predict the directions the analyzed data will likely change. Possible actions are often part of the business intelligence repertoire at the next level of reporting. These techniques need support of “what if” kind of simulation tool in the BI tool.

With bigger businesses one needs to handle a huge amount of data. Managing techniques of handling such large body of data is called “big data”. As the needs of analyzing and discovering trends and patterns grow, the sophisticated needs of analysis can only be met by customized set of tools. No amount of standardized tools available with the Business Intelligence (BI) products may be sufficient. What such customized analysis should be, get decided by the characteristics of the data involved and the science behind analyzing such large data. That is the domain of data science and the persons trained in these techniques are the data scientists.


SQL Database: overview and six editions of SQL Database 2014

The main product from Microsoft in the RDBMS category has been the SQL Database. The main query language supported is T-SQL which is the ANSI standard SQL extended by MS. MS SQL Server was first created for the PS/2 systems in collaboration with Sybase and Ashton Tate. The first release was in 1989, an updated version was released on average every two years. By the time the SQL Database 2005 version became available, the code base was completely owned by Microsoft and the SQL Database was offered as an independent product. Sybase developed a similar product with a similar sounding name.

tutorial for learning sql

Microsoft offers the product in a number of editions, including an Express version that is available for free. It is limited in features but does give you a good feel of what the SQL Database can do. The latest release has been Community Technology Preview which have been made public in April 2016. SQL Server 2016 became generally available on June 1, 2016

The SQL Database 2014 editions have changed over time. The different editions of the SQL Database in any specific release are addressed to different usage scenarios. There are six editions available with the SQL Database 2014. These include an Express edition, Enterprise edition, a Business Intelligence edition, Web edition, Developer edition, and a Standard edition.

  1. The Express edition provides all the the necessities to get started with SQL Server. It is free and easy to use.
  2. The Enterprise edition is intended for enterprise level applications. These typically have demanding and mission-critical services from the database and business analysis needs.
  3. When you have a need for building secure BI applications that are scalable as well as manageable, you need to invest in the Business Intelligence (or BI) edition.
  4. The Standard edition of the SQL Database is useful for BI and core database functionalities.

The latest SQL Database 2014 has incorporated in-memory that improves performance significantly by letting users’ process complete tables to in-memory. This feature is available in all the editions of the sql database and allows minimizing the time for transporting data back and forth from disc. Even if the applications need to be disk bound, performance is enhanced through the use of extension of SSD buffer pool in the sql database. These solid-state drives can act as a cache between the hard drives and main memory. Full text search capabilities incorporated into the latest editions of the sql database.

  1. The “Web” edition is meant for SQL Database integrated into web applications, and only available for service providers hosting public websites that use SQL Server.
  2. The “Developer” version is meant for application development, test and roll out of sql database applications. It has all the capabilities of a full SQL Database.

Please contact us at SQL Server Tutorial if you have any further questions regarding SQL Server or SQL Server 2014 in particular. We are ready to help!


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What is Business Intelligence (BI)?

What is BI? BI stands for Business Intelligence (BI).

Every enterprise requires understanding of how the company is performing, what area of the business requires focus to improve. To determine these, we need data, just data will not help, it requires analysis, calculations, in one word called metrics, to understand projected information. Source of the date is being Raw data, this raw data needs to be molded to metrics and that can be possible with Business Intelligence (BI). Business Intelligence (BI) is technology driven process for Analyzing data for executives to make decisions. Business Intelligence (BI) process provide historical, current and predicted data. Business Intelligence (BI) is also termed as Decision Support Systems (DSS). Business Intelligence (BI) is getting more popular in medium to large size enterprise companies.

BI tools can be fulfilled with common items.

  1.  ETL tools (Extraction Transformation and Loading). This helps in extracting the source to destination.
  2.  Reporting tools. These tools provide calculations, values and graphs in human understanding.

Business Intelligence (BI) is the process of getting application data which normally in normalized database to Business Intelligence (BI) database which is denormalized. Primary motive of Business Intelligence (BI) is to focus on speedy retrieval of the data rather and focusing on data redundancy.

Without proper data there is no way Business Intelligence (BI) will work. To make it work data needs to be tuned filtered. This can be done in multiple stages.

  • Source Data:
    • Data Standardization: make data comparable (same unit, same pattern…)
    • Master Data Management: unique referential
  • Operational Data Store (ODS):
    • Data Cleansing: detect & correct inaccurate data
    • Data Profiling: check inappropriate value, null/empty
  • Data warehouse:
    • Completeness: check that all expected data are loaded
    • Referential integrity: unique and existing referential over all sources
    • Consistency between sources: check consolidated data vs sources
  • Reporting:
    • Uniqueness of indicators: only one share dictionary of indicators
    • Formula accuracy: local reporting formula should be avoided or checked

When its coming to the Business Intelligence (BI) data, where more focus is on fast retrieval of the data rather than focusing on data redundancy, what we call as Relational database vs Dimensional database. Types of Dimensional database used in Business Intelligence (BI) are Star Schema, Snowflake Schema were designed.

More understanding of these schema’s.

  1. Star Schema

Star schema separates business process data into facts and dimensions. Facts being all metrics and calculations, Dimensions being anything like

  • Time dimension
  • Geographical dimension
  • Customer dimension
  • Calendar dimension

Fact table contains primary keys of the dimension table as foreign keys. Dimensions will able to store history when any key information is changed. This process is called changing dimensions, where data represents with start date and end date.

Overall Business Intelligence (BI) is turning into a most important department in enterprise, helping improving the business.


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