The business intelligence (BI) software market can be tough to navigate. Not only do organizations have to sort through hundreds of available products, they also have to make sense of the jargon, trends and other technical aspects of BI tools (e.g. “OLAP” or “in-memory processing”).
Getting a handle on these concepts early in your research process is critical. You’ll want to be literate when you discuss your next purchase with your management team, IT staff and eventually sales representatives.
There are several online resources to help you get up to speed, such as the Solver blog and Software Advice. Software Advice is a website that reviews and compares business intelligence software vendors. They recently put together an introduction guide to three BI tools: data warehouses, ETL tools and OLAP tools.
In their post, “Business Intelligence 101 | A Beginner’s Guide to BI Software,” they explain the function that each tool performs, and why and when companies need to use them. They also discuss four prominent trends currently playing out in the market: predictive analytics, SaaS, “Big Data” and in-memory processing. Here’s an excerpt from their post about data warehouses:
Online analytical processing (OLAP) is another key process and technology found in almost all data warehouse environments and business intelligence systems. But while the data warehouse and ETL tools support “back end” processes, OLAP tools support the presentation layer or “front end” processes such as querying, analysis and reporting. OLAP tools provide the impressive tables, charts and visualizations that make BI exciting!

But OLAP isn’t just about good looks; it’s got some serious smarts under the hood. OLAP allows users to perform sophisticated, multidimensional analysis. In other words, it allows you to analyze more than one dimension of data at a time. For example, you could analyze how many yellow t-shirts were sold during the month of July in Texas and compare it against other t-shirt sales during the same month.
In addition, understanding customer buying habits and buying preferences are the keys to having the right products at the right time. Tools like BI360 put sales information at your fingers tips. You can create powerful reports giving you access to critical business trends, thereby providing you the intelligence to make the right decision.

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