A Detailed Guide On Business Intelligence and Reporting With Best Practices

by avinash v

Definition of Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence (BI) is a technology-driven process for analyzing data and presenting actionable information to help business managers, executives, and other stakeholders make more informed business decisions.

BI involves collecting, integrating, and analyzing data from various sources to generate insights that can be used to improve business performance, identify new opportunities, and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

BI tools and platforms often include features such as data visualization, interactive dashboards, and advanced analytics capabilities to help users better understand and interpret complex data.

Types of Reports in BI

Types of Data Used in BI

There are two main types of data used in Business Intelligence (BI):

1. Structured Data: Structured data refers to organized and highly formatted data that is stored in a specific format, such as in rows and columns within a database. Structured data is easy to analyze, and it can be easily queried using SQL. Common examples of structured data include sales transactions, customer profiles, and financial data.

2. Unstructured Data: Unstructured data refers to data that does not have a specific format or structure. This type of data can include text, images, videos, and audio files. Unstructured data can be challenging to analyze as it requires more complex techniques such as natural language processing and sentiment analysis. Examples of unstructured data include social media posts, customer reviews, and emails.

Popular BI Tools and Platforms

There are many Business Intelligence (BI) available. Here are some of the most used ones:

  • Tableau.
  • Power BI.
  • QlikView.
  • SAP BusinessObjects.
  • IBM Cognos Analytics.
  • MicroStrategy.
  • Oracle Business Intelligence and
  • SAS Visual Analytics.

Overview of Reporting as a Key Component of BI

Reporting is a critical component of Business Intelligence (BI) as it involves the process of generating, organizing, and presenting data in a meaningful way to enable better decision-making. Reporting involves transforming raw data into actionable insights by creating various types of reports such as operational, tactical, and strategic reports.

These reports may include charts, tables, graphs, and other visual aids to help users better understand and analyze data.

Reporting in BI is often supported by a range of reporting tools and platforms that allow users to access, manipulate, and share data in a variety of formats, from basic spreadsheets to interactive dashboards.

Types of Reports in BI

There are three main types of reports commonly used in Business Intelligence (BI):

1. Operational Reports: Operational reports are designed to provide detailed information on day-to-day operations, such as sales reports, inventory reports, or production reports. They are typically run on a regular basis, such as daily or weekly, and are used to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and identify areas for improvement.

2. Tactical Reports: Tactical reports provide more detailed information than operational reports and are typically used by mid-level managers to make strategic decisions. These reports may include trends, forecasts, and comparisons of performance against goals. Tactical reports may be run on a regular basis or as needed, depending on the specific business requirements.

3. Strategic Reports: Strategic reports are used by senior executives to make long-term strategic decisions. These reports provide a high-level view of the business and may include information such as market trends, competitive analysis, and financial forecasts. Strategic reports are typically produced on a less frequent basis, such as quarterly or annually, and may require more time and resources to produce.

Popular Reporting Tools and Platforms

There are many reporting tools and platforms available for Business Intelligence (BI). Here are some of the most used ones:

  • SAP Crystal Reports.
  • Jasper Reports.
  • Oracle Business Intelligence.
  • IBM Cognos Analytics.

Best Practices for BI Reporting

Here are the best practices for Business Intelligence (BI) reporting:

  • Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Define the KPIs that are most relevant to your business and use them to guide your reporting. This will ensure that your reports focus on the metrics that matter most to your organization.
  • Provide Context: Provide context for your data by comparing it to historical data, industry benchmarks, or other relevant metrics. This will help users understand how the data relates to the bigger picture.
  • Use Consistent Terminology: Use consistent terminology across all your reports to ensure that users can understand and compare data easily.
  • Ensure Data Accuracy: Ensure that your data is accurate and up-to-date by establishing data quality processes, such as data validation, data cleansing, and data governance.
  • Monitor Usage: Monitor the usage of your reports to understand which reports are most popular and which ones are not being used. This will help you identify areas for improvement and ensure that your reports are meeting the needs of your users.


In conclusion, Business Intelligence (BI) reporting is a key component of any successful BI strategy, providing actionable insights to drive data-driven decision-making.

By following best practices such as identifying KPIs, keeping reports simple and accurate, and empowering users, organizations can leverage BI reporting to optimize their operations and gain a competitive edge.