Business Analytics/Business Intelligence Definitions

This glossary explains the meaning of key words and phrases that information technology (IT) and business professionals use when discussing business analytics and related software products. You can find additional definitions by visiting WhatIs.com or using the search box below.

  • A

    A/B testing (split testing)

    A/B testing, sometimes called split testing, is an assessment tool for identifying which version of something helps an individual or organization meet a business goal more effectively.

  • Ad Hoc Analysis

    Ad hoc analysis is a business intelligence (BI) process designed to answer a single, specific business question.

  • advanced analytics

    Advanced analytics is a broad category of inquiry that can be used to help drive changes and improvements in business practices.

  • analytic database

    An analytic database is specifically designed to support business intelligence (BI) and analytic applications, typically as part of a data warehouse or data mart.

  • asset turnover ratio

    The asset turnover ratio is a measurement that shows how efficiently a company is using its owned resources to generate revenue or sales.

  • association rules (in data mining)

    Association rules are if-then statements that help to show the probability of relationships between data items within large data sets in various types of databases.

  • B

    BABOK Guide (Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge)

    The guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge, or the BABOK Guide, is a book from the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) that provides essential support and direction to business analysts (BAs) by presenting a collection of the activities that comprise business analysis.

  • big data analytics

    Big data analytics is the often complex process of examining large and varied data sets, or big data, to uncover information -- such as hidden patterns, unknown correlations, market trends and customer preferences -- that can help organizations make informed business decisions.

  • BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools)

    BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) is an open source technology platform sponsored by the Eclipse Foundation that consists of a visual report designer and a runtime component for Java and Java EE environments.

  • blue ocean strategy

    Blue ocean strategy is a business plan of action developed by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne and detailed in their 2005 book, Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant.

  • business analytics (BA)

    Business analytics (BA) is the iterative, methodical exploration of an organization's data, with an emphasis on statistical analysis. Business analytics is used by companies that are committed to making data-driven decisions.

  • business intelligence (BI)

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

  • business intelligence architecture

    A business intelligence architecture is the framework for the various technologies an organization deploys to run business intelligence and analytics applications.

  • business intelligence competency center (BICC)

    A business intelligence competency center (BICC) is a team of people that, in its most fully realized form, is responsible for managing all aspects of an organization's BI strategy, projects and systems.

  • business intelligence dashboard

    A business intelligence dashboard is a graphical interface that displays the current status of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for an enterprise.

  • C

    Campbell's Law

    Campbell's Law is the observation that once a metric has been identified as a primary indicator for success, its ability to accurately measure success tends to be compromised.  

  • citizen data scientist

    A citizen data scientist is any individual who contributes to the research of a complex data initiative but who does not have a formal educational background in data analytics (DA) or business intelligence (BI).

  • cloud analytics

    Cloud analytics is a service model in which one or more key element of data analytics is provided through a public or private cloud.  Cloud analytics applications and services are typically provided through a subscription-based or utility (pay-per-use) model.

  • collaborative BI (collaborative business intelligence)

    Collaborative BI (collaborative business intelligence) is the merging of business intelligence software with collaboration tools, including social and Web 2.0 technologies, to support improved data-driven decision making.

  • customer analytics (customer data analytics)

    Customer analytics, also called customer data analytics, is the systematic examination of a company's customer information and customer behavior to identify, attract and retain the most profitable customers.

  • customer intelligence (CI)

    Customer intelligence (CI) is information derived from customer data that an organization collects from both internal and external sources.

  • D

    d3.js (data-driven documents)

    D3.js (data-driven documents) is a library of JavaScript code that enables users to input their own data into prebuilt visualizations. The code allows users to generate graphics in frequently used web formats like HTML, CSS and SVG.

  • data artist

    A data artist is a business analytics (BA) specialist who creates graphs, charts, infographics and other visual tools that help people understand complex data.

  • data exploration

    Data exploration is the first step in data analysis and typically involves summarizing the main characteristics of a data set, including its size, accuracy, initial patterns in the data and other attributes.

  • data journalism

    Data journalism in an approach to writing for the public in which the journalist analyzes large data sets to identify potential news stories.

  • data preparation

    Data preparation is the process of gathering, combining, structuring and organizing data so it can be used in business intelligence (BI), analytics and data visualization applications.

  • data sampling

    Data sampling is a statistical analysis technique used to select, manipulate and analyze a representative subset of data points to identify patterns and trends in the larger data set being examined.

  • data science as a service (DSaaS)

    Data science as a service (DSaaS) is a form of outsourcing that involves the delivery of information gleaned from advanced analytics applications run by data scientists at an outside company to corporate clients for their business use.

  • data visualization

    Data visualization is the practice of translating information into a visual context, such as a map or graph, to make data easier for the human brain to understand and pull insights from.

  • days sales outstanding (DSO)

    Days sales outstanding (DSO) is the measurement of the average number of days it takes a business to collect payments after a sale has been made.

  • decision-making process

    The decision-making process, in a business context, is a set of steps taken by managers in an enterprise to determine the planned path for business initiatives and to set specific actions in motion.

  • deep analytics

    Deep analytics is the application of sophisticated data processing techniques to yield information from large and typically multi-source data sets comprised of both unstructured and semi-structured data.

  • E

    edge analytics

    Edge analytics applies algorithms to data at the point of collection in order to trigger actions and determine what should be sent back to a central data repository and what should be discarded.

  • embedded BI (embedded business intelligence)

    Embedded BI (business intelligence) is the integration of self-service BI tools into commonly used business applications.

  • ensemble modeling

    Ensemble modeling is the process of running two or more related but different analytical models and then synthesizing the results into a single score or spread in order to improve the accuracy of predictive analytics and data mining applications.

  • enterprise mashup (or data mashup)

    An enterprise mashup is the integration of heterogeneous digital data and applications from multiple sources for business purposes. An enterprise mashup is also sometimes known as a business mashup or, less precisely, as a data mashup.

  • F

    funnel analysis

    Funnel analysis is a way to measure and improve the performance of customer interactions in a step-wise progression from the initial customer contact to a predetermined conversion metric.

  • G

    Google Advertising ID

    Google Advertising ID is a piece of universally unique identifier code that allows mobile applications running on Android devices to identify users and gather data for the purposes of building profiles.

  • Google Analytics

    Google Analytics is a free Web analytics service that provides statistics and basic analytical tools for search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing purposes. The service is available to anyone with a Google account.

  • Google Analytics dashboard

    The Google Analytics dashboard is a user interface to the company’s Web analytics product. Google Analytics is a free service that provides statistics and basic analytical tools for marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.

  • H

    Hadoop cluster

    A Hadoop cluster is a special type of computational cluster designed specifically for storing and analyzing huge amounts of unstructured data in a distributed computing environment. 

  • heat map (heatmap)

    A heat map is a two-dimensional representation of data in which values are represented by colors. Heat maps allow users to understand and analyze complex data sets.

  • I

    in-database analytics

    In-database analytics is a scheme for processing data within the database, avoiding the data movement that slows response time.  

  • in-memory analytics

    In-memory analytics queries data residing in a computer’s random access memory (RAM) rather than data stored on physical disks. This results in vastly shortened query response times.

  • K

    key performance indicators (KPIs)

    Key performance indicators (KPIs) are business metrics used by corporate executives and other managers to track and analyze factors deemed crucial to the success of an organization.

  • key results indicator (KRI)

    A key result indicator (KRI) is a metric that measures the quantitative results of business actions to help companies track progress and reach organizational goals.

  • L

    Lambda architecture

    Lambda architecture is an approach to big data management that provides access to batch processing and near real-time processing with a hybrid approach.

  • location intelligence (LI)

    Location intelligence (LI) is a business analysis tool capability that enables companies to gather geographic- and location-related data to better understand global, regional and local business trends.

  • logistic regression

    Logistic regression is a statistical analysis method used to predict a data value based on prior observations of a data set.

  • M

    MapR

    MapR Technologies is a distributed data platform for AI and analytics provider that enables enterprises to apply data modeling to their business processes with the goal of increasing revenue, reducing costs and mitigating risks.

  • MicroStrategy

    MicroStrategy is an enterprise business intelligence (BI) application software vendor.

  • mobile business intelligence

    Mobile business intelligence is an extension of business intelligence (BI) from desktops and laptops to mobile devices such as Blackberry, iPhone, and iPad.  Reports, charts, graphs, and alerts are designed for viewing on smaller mobile screens. 

  • mobile location analytics (MLA)

    Mobile location analytics is a method used by retailers to track the movements of shoppers throughout their stores.

  • N

    named entity

    A named entity is a term or phrase that identifies an object from a set of other objects with similar attributes.

  • natural language processing (NLP)

    Natural language processing (NLP) is the ability of a computer program to understand human language as it is spoken.

  • noisy data

    Noisy data is meaningless data. The term was often used as a synonym for corrupt data, but its meaning has expanded to include data from unstructured text that cannot be understood by machines.  

  • noisy text

    Noisy text is an electronically-stored communication that cannot be categorized properly by a text mining software program. Noisy text is often caused by an end user's excessive use of idiomatic expressions, abbreviations, chat and text acronyms or business-specific lingo.

  • O

    OLAP dashboard

    The “OLAP” designation indicates that one or more of the graphs or reports (sometimes referred to as “panes,” in the dashboard) are based on an OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) data source. 

  • open source business intelligence (OSBI)

    Open source business intelligence (BI) is, technically, free BI. Instead of selling traditional software licenses, open source BI vendors charge subscription or support fees for their commercial products.

  • operational efficiency

    Operational efficiency is the ability of an organization to reduce waste in time, effort and materials as much as possible, while still producing a high-quality service or product.

  • operational intelligence (OI)

    Operational intelligence (OI) is an approach to data analysis that enables decisions and actions in business operations to be based on real-time data as it's generated or collected by companies.

  • P

    performance scorecard

    A performance scorecard is a graphic or an application that depicts the progress over time of some entity, such as an enterprise, an employee or a business unit, toward some type of goal.

  • predictive analytics

    Predictive analytics is a form of advanced analytics that uses both new and historical data to forecast activity, behavior and trends.

  • process intelligence (business process intelligence)

    Process intelligence is data that has been systematically collected to analyze the individual steps within a business process or operational workflow. 

  • processing in memory (PIM)

    Processing in memory (PIM, sometimes called processor in memory) is the integration of a processor with RAM (usually DRAM or SRAM) on a single chip. The result is sometimes known as a PIM chip.

  • Q

    Qlik

    Qlik is a software vendor specializing in data visualization, executive dashboards and self-service business intelligence products.

  • R

    R programming language

    The R programming language is an open source scripting language for predictive analytics and data visualization.

  • real-time business intelligence (BI)

    Real-time business intelligence is an approach to data analytics that enables business users to get up-to-the-minute data by directly accessing operational systems.

  • revenue attribution

    Revenue attribution is the process of matching customer sales to specific advertisements in order to understand where revenue is coming from and optimize how advertising budgets are spent in the future.

  • S

    SAS Institute Inc.

    SAS Institute Inc. is a software vendor that specializes in advanced and predictive analytics applications, as well as business intelligence and data visualization tools.

  • Scala (Scalable Language)

    Scala is a software programming language that mixes object-oriented methods with functional programming capabilities. It was used to create the scalable Spark analytics engine.

  • self-service analytics

    Self-service analytics is an approach to advanced analytics that gives the ability to conduct analyses to business users, rather than data scientists.

  • self-service business intelligence (BI)

    Self-service business intelligence (BI) is an approach to data analytics that enables business users to access and work with corporate data even if they don't have a background in BI, statistical analysis or data mining.

  • sentiment analysis (opinion mining)

    Sentiment analysis, also referred to as opinion mining, is an approach to natural language processing (NLP) that identifies the emotional tone behind a body of text.

  • small multiples

    Small multiples (also called trellis charts or lattice charts) provide data visualization of many small, interrelated graphs clustered together in a single display.

  • social analysis

    Social analysis is the practice of analyzing a situation or social problem through objective, systematic exploration.

  • social media analytics

    Social media analytics is the practice of gathering data from social media websites and analyzing that data using social media analytics tools to make business decisions.

  • Software as a Service BI (SaaS BI)

    Software as a Service business intelligence (SaaS BI) is a delivery model for business intelligence in which applications are typically deployed outside of a company’s firewall at a hosted location.

  • sparkline

    A sparkline is a small embedded line graph that illustrates a single trend. Sparklines do not include axes or labels; context comes from the related content.

  • spreadmart (spreadsheet data mart)

    A spreadmart (spreadsheet data mart) is a situation in which a company's employees has inconsistent views of corporate data because each department relies on the data from their own spreadsheets.

  • standard operating procedure (SOP)

    A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a set of written instructions that describes the step-by-step process that must be taken to properly perform a routine activity.

  • T

    text mining (text analytics)

    Text mining is the process of exploring and analyzing large amounts of unstructured text data aided by software that can identify concepts, patterns, topics, keywords and other attributes in the data.

  • text tagging

    Text tagging is the process of manually or automatically adding tags or annotation to various components of unstructured data as one step in the process of preparing such data for analysis.

  • U

    unstructured data

    Unstructured data is information, in many different forms, that doesn't hew to conventional data models and thus typically isn't a good fit for a mainstream relational database.

  • unstructured text

    The unstructured text collected from social media activities plays a key role in predictive analytics for the enterprise because it is a prime source for sentiment analysis to determine the general attitude of consumers toward a brand or idea.

  • V

    visual analytics

    Visual analytics is a form of inquiry in which data that provides insight into solving a problem is displayed in an interactive, graphical manner.

  • W

    Web analytics

    Web analytics is the process of analyzing the behavior of visitors to a Web site.

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