Employing Business Intelligence has become crucial for the success of modern retail. This novel analytical capability facilitates the retailer to know more than what they are selling and where.

Retailers are reverting to doing business with simplicity, co-operation, and transparency duly supported by speedy decision cycles. Their primary focus, apart from understanding and satisfying the consumers needs, and preferences, is also on minimizing the lag time. This is possible only when their business activities are appropriately shored up by Business Intelligence capabilities.

Business Intelligence (BI) aims to enhance decision making for business operations. It provides computer based techniques for identifying, extracting, and analyzing business data such as sales revenues. It analyzes historical and current data, interpret them, and predicts views for business operations.

Business Intelligence (BI) - the evolution:

In the earlier times, information flow was just one way, from operational to analytical processes. This was applied in forecasting business opportunities, and developing marketing strategies. External data was also used to gain insightful ideas regarding competition, increasing market share and profitability of key products. This was not required to be real time.

But in the course of time, with the introduction of loyalty programs, and multi-channel retailing, retailers were able to develop an individual relation ship with the customers, connect with them in new ways, and focus on those marketing efforts that would build customer loyalty in the long run. At this point, the need for data with analytical capabilities was felt.

In a world of aggressive competition, keeping closeness with the customer sentiments became vital for gaining and maintaining customer satisfaction. This urged the need for continuous and real time information. Unlike the earlier process, BI also emphasizes the flow of information back and forth, i.e. from operational to analytical, and vice versa.

BI- the concept:

BI is a tool for information analysis and decision support along with historical data as a source. A BI life cycle process generally involves the following steps:

The BI life cycle starts with data collection. It collects data directly from the point of its generation. This greatly varies from the traditional methods of collection, analysis, and interpretation of only historical data. BI gives better advantage to the business. It is originated from many types of systems and applications such as relational database, business applications such as ERP, CRM applications, text files, or office applications such as spreadsheets.