Common Terms in Business Intelligence for the Construction Industry

In Insights, Lantern Posts by Marc Krichman

dictionary-1426438-1280x960Business intelligence is a complex and often difficult subject to understand fully. It seems everyone is talking about it, but what are they saying, and what does it mean? Part of the problem is the plethora of technical terms and jargon that people use when discussing BI. Knowing and understanding those terms is the first step towards understanding business intelligence. So here’s a guide to some of the most important BI terms, to help you get a handle on what business intelligence entails.

Business Intelligence (BI) – The umbrella term which includes the applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance

Data Mart – A data mart is typically a smaller, more focused version of a data warehouse (see below). Data marts bring together data for a single business unit,  user group or application for the purposes of analysis.

Data Mining – Gathering together large amounts of data and using algorithms and complex searches in order to uncover patterns, trends, relationships, etc.

Data Strategy – A roadmap and plan to utilize a company’s data and to support access, collaboration and quality. Most importantly, the data strategy should identify the purpose and why a company is putting the strategy in place.

Data Warehouse – A single database in which data from all different sources and departments within your company is converted into a single, common format and stored together for the purposes of analysis.

ETL – Extract, Transform, Load. The process of gathering data together from those different sources, converting or transforming it into a single format and loading it into a data warehouse for later access.

KPI – Key Performance Indicator. KPIs are the areas of data that are important to a business. The data from a KPI can be a good measure of the company’s overall health and success. For example, profit margins and costs are both important KPIs. If profits are down and/or costs are up, it’s indicative that the company is having problems that need to be addressed.

Visualization –  The a general term that describes any effort to help people understand the significance of data by placing it in a visual context. Patterns, trends and correlations that might go undetected in text-based data can be exposed and recognized easier with data visualization software.

These are just a few of the important terms you’ll come across in business intelligence. Knowing what they refer to and understanding them in context is essential if you truly want to understand what business intelligence is all about and what it can do for you. Do some research on your own and see what else you can learn about business intelligence. The better informed you are on the subject, the better you’ll be able to implement a successful BI plan in your own company.

Need help getting through the research and terms? Contact Lantern Data Systems! We specialize in business intelligence solutions for the construction industry. We’re experienced in both BI and construction, and can provide the specifically-tailored solutions that construction companies need.