Business Intelligence is a business concept that have existed since the middle of the last century. It is defined as the intelligent use of the data available to a company in order to make the most appropriate decisions.
The dramatical change that led to the emergence of huge amounts of data, which could not be processed with the technologies available until then, gave a rise to the need of new architectures that could be useful for this purpose. That was the beginning of Big Data.
The combination of Business Intelligence and Big Data provides us with an amazing tool that allows to cover and extract information from an immensely large amount of data in real time. Something that was impossible until recently has become a competitive advantage for many businesses.
In the following lines we will try to clarify the relationship between Business Intelligence and Big Data, and what unites them, giving a rise to a symbiosis that is significant for the near future.
The processing of Data used in Business Intelligence
Big Data technology is fed by data that may be already structured (within a tagged language and standard format) or unstructured. Examples of the latter are multimedia files, emails or text documents. In this case you need to apply a transformation to convert them into structured data.
Another aspect that adds value to the relationship between Business Intelligence and Big Data is the speed of data work. Thanks to Parallel Mass Processing, that consists in the interconnection of several processors simultaneously and working parallely, Big Data process a big amount of information in a very short period of time.
Thanks to this way of working with all types of data in large quantities and in real time, we can achieve a vision more adjusted to reality than the one we had before the development of Big Data technologies.
Speaking about the Big Data architecture base, there is a wide range of possibilities to define it.
A traditional architecture of Business Intelligence system consists of an ETL (Extract Transform Load) tool that is responsible for collecting structured data from various sources (external and / or internal) and reorganize them according to a model based on tables. This data transformed by the ETL is stored in a Data Warehouse (DWH), which is nothing else than a relational database.
Finally, this data is shown in panels thanks to different tools, such as Tableau or CoolIT. If it is required to present the data in a more graphic way, the usage of SQL engines is advisable.
Advantages of Business Intelligence and Big Data Applying
Business Intelligence and Big Data have revolutionized numerous sectors. Getting useful information from innumerable sources has opened an endless possibilities for companies, which can benefit from it, leading their businesses towards a more successful future.
Thanks to the use of both Business Intelligence and Big Data, internal and external resources can be optimized with consequent cost savings, in addition to predicting user behavior, offering them more attractive products and services based on factors such as their tastes, level of spendings or location.
In Geographica we have developed solutions based on Big Data and Business Intelligence, for both public and private sectors. The example is Vodafone Analytics platform, that, thanks to the data collected by this telecommunications giant, can output such information as places and time of maximum affluence, flows of people and traffic or customer segmentation.
We also took part in projects related to Smart Cities, like Urbo and NowCity, that are based on these technologies. In these projects we use sensors, located in strategic areas of the city, to collect data, essential for the decision making regarding a large city control. It is also important to mention Aquasig project, which aims to achieve more efficient water management in cities through the processing of data about consumption, flow, pressure, etc.
We are constantly creating a flow of data (locations, messages, emails, credit card expenses, social media publications …). In fact, it is estimated that 90% of the current available data has been produced over the last two years.
In addition, it is important to highlight the relevance of this data, since it is estimated that around 75% of the information that is not processed in a short time ends up losing all its value.
With the arrival of Big Data we have reached a greater technical capacity to extract value from this cascade of information. That is why it has become the great ally of Business Intelligence, paving the way to a more accurate decision making at the level of business management.
The joint work of Big Data and Business Intelligence has significantly improved the conclusions output from reality, since it allows to process types and quantities of information that had never been processed before.
We are living in the era called the Age of Data by some experts, and they are right. Data, that is becoming more important every day, should have a beneficial impact on all aspects of society through responsible use.