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A Look At The Evolution Of BI Platform Over The Years

Business Intelligence tools are crucial to the growth of a company and are a go-to tool for gaining insights and making efficient data-driven decisions. Here is the detailed evolution of this BI platforms that has immense significance today.


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“BI is about providing the right data at the right time to the right people so that they can take the right decisions” – Nic Smith with Microsoft BI Solutions Marketing

Looking At The Start Of BI

It was in 1865 when the term BI first came into existence. Cyclopaedia of Commercial and Business Anecdotes, Richard Devens used the term “Business Intelligence” to describe how a financier Sir Henry Furnese had successfully beaten his competitors and profited by understanding the market and the conditions surrounding it better than they did. More recently, in 1958, an article was written by an IBM computer scientist named Hans Peter Luhn, describing the potential of gathering Business Intelligence (BI) through the use of technology.

Avin Jain of Big Data BizViz at Cypher 2018 said that B of BI comes before A of AI as far as analytics is concerned. We have moved from the desktop based reports to web reports and from web reports to the BI world, which is from where we move to the big data and AI world.

In the present world, there are 50 plus BI products across the world but the platform story is not the same as what it was before 2007.

Evolution Of BI

In 1968, only individuals with specialised skill-set could translate data into usable information. At this time, data from multiple sources was normally stored in silos, and research was typically presented in a fragmented, disjointed report that was open to interpretation. Edgar Codd recognised this as a problem, and published a paper in 1970, altering the way people thought about databases. His  proposal of developing a “relational database model” gained tremendous popularity, and was adapted worldwide. Business intelligence is understood and evolved from the decision support systems (DSS) that began in the 1960s and developed throughout the mid-1980s even spread out to the countries like Holland, Flanders, France, and Germany.

Now BI is evolving in every industry throughout the world but in olden times, most of the business people found it very difficult to analyse data. Let’s rewind and go back to olden times on how business intelligence has been evolved from then to now. According to the History of Business Intelligence, the term “Business Intelligence” first appeared in Richard Millar Devens’ Cyclopaedia of Commercial and Business Anecdotes in the year of 1865. After that Sir Henry Furnese gained profit by receiving and acting upon information about his environment, prior to his competitors.

BI in 1980s

1980s, was when Big Data experienced some major changes. Data began to be organised into warehouses and used to access and manage data in one place. Bu these data warehouses were very technical in nature and required an expensive IT staff specialised in BI to run the reports. There was not much awareness about how to make use of this new technology, among businesses. There would also be a longer run time for the reports because of the limitations of computers at the time. During the 1980s, BI still had a long way to go.

BI in 1990s

Known as the “BI 1.0”, this era of BI was when BI became popular to the business world and the adoption increased. But since the technology grew during this era, BI solutions were very expensive.

BI during this era was not very flexible and affordable. Moreover, it could take many days to ask a BI question which is a problem in BI where  it is only by asking the right data analysis questions that you will get something valuable from your data.

Image credit: datameer

BI in 2000

This was the era when technologies such as real-time processing came into existence for making decisions based on recent information. BI was taken more seriously as businesses were realising its importance. Dashboards came into existence in abundance, making an easy access of the data to help make better-informed business decisions. This made the business to access more than a static report. This was a time when BI platform advanced a lot. Self-service BI tools like Tableau, QlikView and others hit the market. These players put the analytics in the hands of the business analysts, but they were still dependent on IT to get the data to a place where they could then work with it in their self-service tool. They were limited only to structured data and limited in big data use cases to aggregated, summarised, pre-processed data. More and more companies understood the true value of BI and realised that they could help them to succeed in business. Emergence of these simple tools let the non-technical user to intuitively generate reports and data through clicking and a drag and drop interface rather than typing into a command line.

This is when real-time processing had emerged, giving an advantage of an up to date information to be used in decision-making, unlike the previous times when databased would have to be updated in batches calling for a time lag.

BI Today

BI has played a major role in the AI-driven world and enables businesses with a lot of ease in their functioning and transform their businesses. It is important for a streamline low and predictive abilities. The future of BI would look more automated and heavily used. It promises to help in the progression of the modern businesses.

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Disha Misal
Found a way to Data Science and AI though her fascination for Technology. Likes to read, watch football and has an enourmous amount affection for Astrophysics.

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