Cloud-based BI is a game-changer

The cloud makes BI finally affordable and accessible, so businesses can actually take advantage of their intelligence

Those who follow the world of business intelligence (BI) have probably noticed both an increase in new cloud BI providers and the movement of existing providers to the cloud.

The concept is simple: Your transactional information is copied to cloud-based storage, either to an ODS (operational data store) or a data warehouse. The information is structured in a way that's easy to understand, typically around major business entities such as sales, inventory, and payments. Once the data is in the cloud, you can run reports, create dashboards, and perform analytical operations that support core business decisions from a Web app.

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The use of BI in the cloud is a game-changer, but not in that it adds any new BI capabilities. Instead, through the use of the cloud computing, BI is finally affordable and available to those who need access to this information.

Since the inception of these concepts years ago, data warehousing and BI have always been too expensive. You can count on $1 million minimum to get a basic system up and running, then expect to pay very expensive consultants and analysts to maintain it. Moreover, the users who needed these BI systems to make critical business decisions typically had no access, with IT citing cost and complexity of deploying and managing the front-end BI tools.

With the advent of cloud-based BI, the cost drops dramatically compared to that of traditional BI. You can also bring critical analytics to those who need them: line managers who can use the information to improve business operations when it counts, and not have to learn of problems weeks and even months after they appear, as is the case with many traditional BI systems.

Moreover, cloud-based BI provides better support for device-delivered information, such as to dashboards or reports intended for smartphones and tablets.

This is a case of the cloud providing access to flexible and elastic computing resources at an affordable price. At last, BI systems are available to those who actually need them.

This article, "Cloud-based BI is a game-changer," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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