What are business intelligence (BI) tools?

Business intelligence (BI) tools are types of application software that collect and process large amounts of unstructured data from internal and external systems, including books, journals, documents, health records, images, files, email, video, and other business sources. While not as flexible as business analytics tools, BI tools provide a way of amassing data to find information primarily through queries. These tools also help prepare data for analysis so that you can create reports, dashboards, and data visualizations. The results give both employees and managers the power to accelerate and improve decision making, increase operational efficiency, pinpoint new revenue potentials, identify market trends, report genuine KPIs, and identify new business opportunities.

Typically used for more straightforward querying and reporting of business data, business intelligence tools can combine a broad set of data analysis applications including ad hoc analysis and querying, enterprise reporting, online analytical processing (OLAP), mobile BI, real-time BI, operational BI, cloud and software as a service BI, open-source BI, collaborative BI, and location intelligence. It can also include data visualization software for designing charts, as well as tools for building BI dashboards and performance scorecards that display business metrics and KPIs to bring company data to life in easy-to-understand visuals.

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