There are many prevailing definitions of business intelligence. Ultimately it is up to your organization to adopt the definition that makes sense to you.
My favorite definition is provided by Forrester Research.
Business Intelligence (BI) is a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information used to enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational insights and decision-making.
This definition of business intelligence includes data warehousing as part of business intelligence. This is the primary reason I like the Forrester definition. I don’t believe that BI can be done in isolation without considering the data warehouse processes.
Here is a list of things that business intelligence isn’t:
- BI is not just a Data Warehouse
- BI is not just Dashboards
- BI is not just about Technology
- BI is not just for Executives/Leadership
- BI is not just for Large Institutions
There are many different types of business intelligence applications. Here is my list of the 5 primary types of BI applications:
- Standard Reports – Reports with the ability to enter a parameter, drill-down to lower level of detail, and link to related reports
- Ad Hoc Query Access and Reporting – Often used as the development tool for standard reports
- Dashboards and Scorecards – At-a-glance views of key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Data Mining – Data exploration with the intent to find patterns or relationships that can be made useful to the organization
- Operational Intelligence – Real-time insight into business operations
A great book you should buy for more information on business intelligence is The Data Warehouse Lifecycle Toolkit.