In a nutshell, Business Intelligence is the mastery of strategic information useful to economic actors.
Business intelligence essentially means understanding and learning what's happening in the world outside your business so you can be as competitive as possible. It means learning as much as possible - as soon as possible - about your industry in general, your competitors, or even your county's particular zoning rules. In short, it empowers you to anticipate and face challenges head on.
Intelligence: The US National Security Agency gives the following definition of "intelligence" in this context, it is "...knowledge and foreknowledge of the world... [that is] the prelude to...decision and action"1.
The term "foreknowledge" refers to the future and its evaluation relative to the present. The phrase "prelude to decision and action" focuses on the need to have some kind of system in place whose aim is to capture the value of the data gathered and its analysis that will lead to a business response.
1. The cycle of intelligence
The intelligence cycle is the process of developing unrefined data into polished intelligence for the use of policymakers. The intelligence cycle consists of six steps [Appendix 1]. The graphic below shows the circular nature of this process, although movement between the steps is fluid. Intelligence uncovered at one step may require going back to an earlier step before moving forward.
I. The first phase planning and direction – In this phase, decision maker should define the company's requirements in terms of what information is needed? Why is it needed? When is it due? It involves working with decision makers to discover their intelligence needs and then translating those needs into their specific intelligence requirements. (Ranjit Bose, 2008)
II. The collection activities include identification of all potential sources of information and then research and gather the right data legally and ethically from all available sources and put it in an ordered form. The analysis is a very important step – activities involve analyzing collected data and transferring it into useful information.in other words, it involves interpreting and translating the collected raw data into “actionable intelligence”. (Ranjit, 2008)
III. Analysis encompasses a systematic examination of relevant data, information, and knowledge collected, for applicability or significance, and the transformation of the results into actionable intelligence that will improve planning and decision making or will enable the development of strategies that offer a sustainable competitive advantage. (Ranjit, 2008)
IV. Dissemination – the report and inform from this phase is the finished product. Often, dissemination or communication of the findings takes the form of a report, a dashboard, or a meeting. These findings are used as inputs to conduct further analyses such as competitor profiling, scenario planning, and scenario analysis. The report will support the decision maker to make the final decision. (Ranjit Bose, 2008)
V. Feedback – This step is about evaluation and it is the final phase in the cycle. Feedback activities involve measuring the impact of the intelligence that was provided to the decision makers. For example, was it used? How – or why not? Did it result in making a deal? Did it save money? Did the result meet the objective? They therefore provide the analyst with important areas for continuous improvement or further investigation. (Ranjit Bose, 2008)
2. Business Intelligence: How to gather and analyses strategic information?
The analysis process is one of the key steps of the cycle of intelligence. It comes directly after the orientation and research steps, and aims to extract collected data, making sense of it. Analyzing information consists of several stages of processing and operations that ultimately produce intelligence. When