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Business Intelligence: Tools, Trends and Buying Guides

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Business intelligence tools help organizations make meaningful, data-driven decisions by interpreting and transforming enormous amounts of structured and unstructured data. In short, BI helps you figure out what's working for your business and why.

Although today's business intelligence tools are still evolving, they can be categorized into five areas, including databases, extraction transformation and load (ETL) tools, data quality tools, reporting tools and statistical analysis tools; and many BI solutions cover more than one category. Additionally, transitioning your organization to a real-time, on-demand business intelligence solution involves several components, including data management, warehousing, processing and integration solutions, along with business performance management, big data analytics and visualization tools. 

Business intelligence appliance vendors promise fast integration with pre-configured servers, software and services that include all (or most) of these components. They come in the form of a hardware-based, drop-in appliance that is typically a compact, rack-mounted data warehouse system that includes processors for running data transformations and analysis. Many of the database managers that run on these processors are custom-made for the architecture of their respective systems. But as with many other enterprise solutions, business intelligence tools are moving to the cloud and cloud BI alternatives are worth a consideration. High bandwidth and fast connectivity make it possible to connect any data center to powerful BI cloud services that offer data analytics, performance and process management, integration, storage and more.

Below you'll find discussions of a number of different options, best practices and advice on the modern business intelligence solutions and services, both on-premises and in the cloud.

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Business Intelligence Tools of the Trade

There are many challenges to getting started with business intelligence, including choosing the right BI tools. This article outlines the five categories of tools -- databases, ETL tools, data quality tools, reporting and statistical analysis tools -- that address many of the BI system needs, offering a good starting point for understanding the tools you will need for your next BI project.  >> See All BI Tools of the Trade

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The Promise and Limits of On-Demand Business Intelligence

The combination of cloud computing and widely used data analysis tools is making on-demand business intelligence more realistic and appealing. Before you drop support for your on-premise data warehouse and reporting systems, consider the advantages and disadvantages of on-demand business intelligence. >> Read About the Promise and Limits of Cloud-Based BI Tools

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How to Link Business Intelligence to Business Strategy

Business intelligence techniques can help identify weaknesses and opportunities in your business operations. Aligning BI efforts with business strategy is essential to maximizing the benefits. This article discusses five important considerations when assessing how well a BI project supports business strategy, including the driving business questions, metrics, measures, data and technical resources required for the BI project. >> See How to Link Business Intelligence to Business Strategy

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Social Business Intelligence with IBM Social Media Analytics

Two broad approaches are available for analyzing social media text: text analytics and natural language processing. Both have a role in social media analytics but it is important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of both. This article outlines key features to look for in social media analysis tools, such as IBM Social Media Analytics, which includes support for both types of language analysis. >> Read Social Business Intelligence with IBM Social Media Analytics

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Big Data Changes Business Intelligence: New Tools & Techniques

Big data is often described in terms of the variety of data, the speed with which it changes and the volume of the data itself. Big data introduces new ways of understanding business operations that complement existing management reporting systems. Today we have the opportunity to tap into a broader array of information captured in big data. As you develop your strategy for big data analysis, consider new tools and techniques for your BI strategy. >> See All New Tools and Techniques for Big Data BI

>> More Big Data Analytics Tools

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Career Paths in Big Data and Business Intelligence

A career in big data and business intelligence begins with a working knowledge of statistics along with a solid understanding of BI tools and big data platforms. There are also excellent big data and BI certifications available, both vendor-specific and vendor-neutral, from the SAS Institute, HP, EMC, Cloudera, Oracle, Amazon, IBM and others. >> Read Finding a Career in Big Data & Business Intelligence

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