Transformation of Business Intelligence in the Age of Big Data

The Transformation of Business Intelligence from Analysis to Prediction

Business Intelligence which refers to the slicing and dicing of data to mine it for clues on everything from consumer behaviour to the business strategies of rivals and competitors has come a long way since the earliest days when it was used for market intelligence to the times Data Warehousing and Data Mining were used as aids and props for marketing strategies to the present times when it has far exceeded its initial capabilities to become truly predictive and indicative of market trends and that too in a real time manner.

Indeed, it can be said that while Business Intelligence was always used for predictive purposes, its transformation from a relatively minor function or process in firms to a more strong and predictive indicator of the future means that the arrival and emergence of Big Data have indeed transformed the practice and purpose of Business Intelligence. For instance, in the 1990s, Business Intelligence was mostly used in conjunction with Data warehousing and Data mining where two and Three-Dimensional views of Databases was done to enable the firms to understand consumer behaviour and clues to future market trends.

Example of How BI was used in the 1990s

In this context, it would be useful to consider how Business Intelligence was used in a typical bank as far as data pertaining to credit card transactions was concerned. Typically, firms used to slice and dice purchasing patterns and payment data to understand how consumers behaved in terms of different products. Apart from this, by analyzing payment patterns, banks were able to determine which customer and which credit card user was likely to pay on time and which consumer would default or have to be placed on a credit watch. Indeed, this was the most common form of analysis that was done using customer data through Business Intelligence enabled by Data Warehousing and Data Mining.

How BI now has God like Capabilities

Fast forward to the present when Business Intelligence is now a predictive and real-time enabler of consumer behaviour and market trends wherein it is now being used to look ahead in Crystal Ball fashion leading to Banks and other Retailers as well as firms acquiring God Like Capabilities in predicting the future. Indeed, this transformation or revolution in the way in which Business Intelligence works has been achieved mainly through the use of Big Data Techniques that enable firms and other users to not only understand how consumers behave but also to predict how they would act in the future.

Example of How Business Intelligence (BI) is Used Now

Consider, for instance, the example of Amazon which uses Big Data and Business Intelligence extensively. This eCommerce giant mines consumer purchasing data and browsing data to build a database of information that can be used to predict what they are likely to purchase next and thus, provide them with the recommendations and suggestions for products and brands. Not only this, Business Intelligence enabled by Big Data also allows Amazon and other retailers to build Real Time Maps of consumer behaviour wherein they can offer brands and products across categories instead of linear suggestions restricted to particular categories.

This means that firms that use BI techniques no longer have to be content with Data Analytics that is linear or two or three dimensional and instead have Five Dimensional Capabilities that can predict and extrapolate as well as build an All Seeing Database that is truly revolutionary and transformative in nature. Indeed, if not anything, BI is no longer restricted to a particular function or a subset or even a superset of data and instead, it is cross-functional and all encompassing as well as holistic and comprehensive.

Consider for instance how the CDC or the Centre for Disease Control in the United States which is a Federal Agency tasked with preventing outbreaks of diseases uses BI in conjunction with Big Data. The CDC has now the capabilities to build a real-time map of diseases and their occurrences along geographical, demographic, racial, and class lines that allows it to predict future outbreaks of disease across these parameters. This means that the CDC is no longer reactive meaning that it steps in after the eruption of a disease and instead, is predictive meaning that it has moved from its initial capabilities to a point where it uses real-time data and information to map the outbreaks of diseases.

Data is the New Currency of Power

The reason why BI has undergone such transformative capabilities is that in the present Information Age where Data is the New Currency of Power, marketers and any firm for that matter are now collecting data about virtually anything and everything and which in jargon terms means Big Data. Thus, using these Big Data techniques in conjunction with Advanced Artificial Intelligence capabilities has resulted in firms having the capabilities to use BI for accurately measuring the present as well as predicting the future in addition to using the past to understand both.

Building a Better Society

While there might be some who complain about the takeover of machines or point to ethical concerns of having these capabilities, one cannot say that BI with Big Data can be used for creating a better society as the example of the CDC reveals. Indeed, while ethical concerns over any business strategy or innovation have always been the case, the point remains that responsible use of BI with Big Data can indeed transform and revolutionize the way we work and live. To conclude, the emergence of Big Data Techniques has indeed revolutionized the way in which BI is used and hence, one must welcome the same.


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