What is business intelligence?

Another great question that we get ask a lot usually right after what is SharePoint.

Business intelligence, or BI for short, is a generic or umbrella term that refers to a variety of software applications used to analyse a company’s raw data.

BI as a discipline is made up of several related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting.

Companies use BI to improve decision making, cut costs and identify new business opportunities. BI is more than just corporate reporting and more than a set of tools to coax information out of enterprise systems. Management use BI to identify inefficient business processes that are ripe for re-engineering as well as increase understanding of day to day activities in the company. Better understanding leads to better decisions making. BI is all about making better decisions.

Business intelligence simplifies information discovery and analysis, making it possible for decision-makers at all levels of an organization to more easily access, understand, analyse, collaborate, and act on information, anytime and anywhere. A good BI system should answer.

  • What has happened?
  • What is happening?
  • Why?
  • What will happen?
  • What do we want to have happen?

We work with a number of world class BI tools predominantly from Microsoft, Tableau and Qlik that together provide a suite of complimentary tools enabling Dolphin Networks to construct the perfect BI solution for your business.

Over three posts let’s take a quick look at the key feature of these three.

First from Microsoft with Power BI

Power BI provides cloud based BI services, known as Power BI Services, along with a desktop based interface, called Power BI desktop. It offers data warehouse capabilities including data preparation, data discovery and interactive dashboards.

Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools to analyzes data and share insights. Power BI dashboards provide a 360-degree view for business users with their most important metrics in one place, updated in real time, and available on all of their devices. With one click, users can explore the data behind their dashboard using intuitive tools that make finding answers easy. Creating a dashboard is simple thanks to over 50 connections to popular business applications, complete with pre-built dashboards crafted by experts that help you get up and running quickly. And you can access your data and reports from anywhere with the Power BI Mobile apps, which update automatically with any changes to your data.

If you are a data analyst delivering reporting and analytics to your organisation, Power BI lets you be productive and creative with what you build. Power BI Desktop is a feature-rich data mashup and report authoring tool. Combine data from disparate databases, files, and web services with visual tools that help you understand and fix data quality and formatting issues automatically. With over 20 built-in visuals and a vibrant community of custom visualisations, create stunning reports that communicate your message effectively. With the Power BI service, publish reports securely to your organisation and setup automatic data refresh so everyone has the latest information.

Power BI can unify all of your company’s data, whether in the cloud or on-premises. Using the Power BI gateways, you can connect SQL Server databases, Analysis Services models, and many other data sources to your same dashboards in Power BI. If you already have reporting portals or applications, embed Power BI reports and dashboards for a unified experience.

power BI chart

Desktop Power BI

Power BI Desktop puts visual analytics at your fingertips with intuitive report authoring. Drag-and-drop to place content exactly where you want it on the flexible and fluid canvas. Quickly discover patterns as you explore a single unified view of linked, interactive visualizations.

Power BI Desktop lets you create a collection of queries, data connections, and reports that can easily be shared with others. Power BI Desktop integrates proven Microsoft technologies – the powerful Query engine, data modelling, and visualizations – and works seamlessly with the online Power BI service.

With the combination of Power BI Desktop (where analysts and others can create powerful data connections, models and reports) and the Power BI service (where Power BI Desktop reports can be shared so users can view and interact with them), new insights from the world of data are easier to model, build, share, and extend.

Data analysts will find Power BI Desktop a powerful, flexible, and a highly accessible tool to connect with and shape the world of data, build robust models, and craft well-structured reports.

Learn more about Power BI Desktop


Microsoft Power BI Mobile

After you have created Power BI reports in Power BI Desktop, and Power BI dashboards in the Power BI service. It’s time to connect to your data anywhere and anytime with the Power BI mobile apps. Try viewing and interacting with your Power BI dashboards and reports on your mobile device — be it iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch), Android phone or tablet, or Windows 10 device.

power BI mobile

Microsoft Power BI Gateway

With Power BI gateways, you can keep your data fresh by connecting to on-premises data sources. The gateways provide the flexibility you need to meet individual needs, and the needs of your organization.


If you have questions about specific uses or capabilities, feel free to post them in the comments section or contact us via the form below.

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