Business intelligence usage can be categorized into the following categories:
1. Business operations reporting
The most common form of business intelligence is business operations reporting. This includes the actuals and how the actuals stack up against the goals. This type of business intelligence often manifests itself in the standard weekly or monthly reports that need to be produced.
Many of you have no doubt run into the needs for forecasting, and all of you would agree that forecasting is both a science and an art. It is an art because one can never be sure what the future holds. What if competitors decide to spend a large amount of money in advertising? What if the price of oil shoots up to $150 a barrel? At the same time, it is also a science because one can extrapolate from historical data, so it's not a total guess.
The primary purpose of a dashboard is to convey the information at a glance. For this audience, there is little, if any, need for drilling down on the data. At the same time, presentation and ease of use are very important for a dashboard to be useful.
4. Multidimensional analysis
Multidimensional analysis is the "slicing and dicing" of the data. It offers good insight into the numbers at a more granular level. This requires a solid data warehousing / data mart backend, as well as business-savvy analysts to get to the necessary data.
5. Finding correlation among different factors
This is diving very deep into business intelligence. Questions asked are like, "How do different factors correlate to one another?" and "Are there significant time trends that can be leveraged/anticipated?"