Pardon my play on words...let's dive into the deep pool of Business Intelligence (BI). BI is often confused with reporting since the end result is well, a report, or looks like one. But BI goes far beyond typical reporting. A good BI strategy is meant to provide information that enables better decision making far beyond single projects, PCOs or RFI logs. An example for the AEC Industry would be correlating square footage to cost of construction. This in turn might help correlate cost per patient room or bed in a hospital. That might be useful to look at revenue and profit per unit as well. Clearly this can apply to any space type, but I like this example because it's easy to see how data from Accounting, Project Management, Scheduling and Building Information Models could be used. I also have a fair amount of experience with this from prior work with North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System (NSLIJ).
If your interested in more on the general concept of BI, I've included a couple sources for you that are reasonably applicable to any industry.
- Business Intelligence per Wikipedia
- Business Intelligence per Microsoft
- Business Intelligence per Oracle
Like my example and the few references indicate, optimally you would leverage information from many sources allowing business people to perform analytics and have a more clear picture of indicators (typically called KPI's) for making business decisions. BI could also come from one source like Accounting or Project Management which may be of value but does usually not give the complete picture. This is in part why there was a case for "all in ones" in the early/mid 2000's. At that time technology was limited in being able to connect many disparate systems whether it was the same vendor or multiple vendors products. That was ok when all you had was Accounting and Project Management but now that we have 10 or more relevant sources, how do we deal with that?
Enter the Cloud Computing era and Essential NIST Characteristics like On Demand Self Service coupled with underlying technologies like Web Services and interoperable integration APIs that have proliferated to make BI easier. If you digested this so far without glazing over, stay tuned for a a dive into more on how to connect to all these sources, possibly aggregate them, and a few ways that is done in the modern, cloud based world.