Organizations need to sift through big data to discover actionable insights to make timely, informed decisions. Business intelligence (BI) tools are key to unlocking the value of big data, as enterprises can use them to visualize big data to reveal trends and insights. Let's take a look at how to use BI and big data together to benefit your business.

Big data

Big data refers to a dataset that has grown so large or complex that basic data handling techniques are no longer sufficient. It's characterized by three V's: variety, volume, and velocity. Tools for processing and managing big data include Hadoop, Spark, and Cassandra.

Working with big data can be difficult. The speed at which enterprises collect big data makes it challenging to obtain insights from it, and its rapid growth also requires an analytics data repository that can scale, such as a cloud data warehouse. Combining information from various sources can also lead to issues with data quality.

The expense and effort needed to overcome these difficulties is worthwhile, as enterprises can analyze big data to reveal insights that lead to enhanced productivity, provide a competitive advantage, and increase innovation. For example, a business could analyze big data to reveal trends in customer purchasing behavior to better target their marketing efforts.

Business intelligence

BI is a set of tools, infrastructure, and practices used to obtain insights from enterprise data. BI makes data more comprehensible — think charts and graphs, dashboards, and interactive reports. There are dozens of BI tools, including Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, and Looker.

Decision-makers can use BI tools to generate reports and visualize data, allowing them to make data-driven choices to direct the enterprise. For example, an IT manager could use a BI report to visualize support ticket data to find out what issues arose most frequently or took the most time to resolve. The manager could then provide targeted documentation to users on steps to try to solve those issues before engaging IT support, so the IT department can focus on more productive tasks.

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Unlocking the value of big data with business intelligence

A number of modern BI platforms can prepare big data for use in visualizations and reports. Microsoft Power BI has data preparation features that allow analysts to ingest and transform big data as needed, for instance, and Tableau integrates with big data tools like Hadoop and Spark. Other BI tools require users to integrate and transform big data beforehand. Consider taking advantage of cloud data warehouses, as their inherent scalability means they can handle any required transformations without running out of CPU resources.

Enterprises in every industry can benefit from using BI tools to surface patterns and trends in big data that would otherwise remain hidden. Marketers can look at vast amounts of customer data to measure and track KPIs, while health care professionals can review information for thousands of patients to find underlying trends regarding issues like patient safety or treatment outcomes. Providing a way to visualize big data with BI software also fosters data democratization by allowing all business stakeholders to uncover insights and trends to guide their work.

Business intelligence, big data, and the data warehouse

BI tools work best with information centralized in a data warehouse for easy access. Stitch's data pipeline can replicate your enterprise's information to the cloud data warehouse of your choice. Try Stitch for free today.

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