What are the Different Types of Data Sources Used in Business Intelligence?

Learn about the different types of data sources used in business intelligence such as databases, secondary sources, external data and more.

What are the Different Types of Data Sources Used in Business Intelligence?

Business intelligence (BI) is a process of collecting data from diverse sources, organizing it, analyzing it for trends and patterns, and then using the knowledge to inform strategic business decisions. Databases are the most traditional type of data source in BI, such as MS Access, Oracle, DB2, Informix, SQL, MySQL, Amazon SimpleDB and many others.

However, traditionally transactional databases are not considered optimal for business intelligence due to their data not being optimized for reporting and analysis and directly querying these databases can slow down the system.

Secondary sources such as books, magazines, newspaper articles, media reports, and other detailed data accounts are also used in business intelligence. External data can include just about anything from historical demographics to market prices, weather conditions, and social media trends.

Organizations use external data to analyze and model the economic, political, social or environmental factors that influence their businesses. Business intelligence tools such as data visualizations and dashboards allow real-time access to information from different sources and can be used to gain valuable information and make more informed decisions. Gartner states that most of an organization's content between 80% and 90% is unstructured data while the rest can be structured or semi-structured data. Measuring the success of business intelligence is a crucial step in ensuring that technology meets its objectives.

Business intelligence includes data analysis and business analysis but uses them only as parts of the entire process. All of these things come together to create a comprehensive vision of a company that helps people make better and practical decisions.