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Business intelligence (BI) architecture is the underlying framework of systems that support a company or organization's collection of materials relevant to its operations. Companies use business intelligence to collect information about competitors and the industry as a whole, to evaluate trends, and to perform internal tasks like tracking sales numbers. A strong underlying architecture is critical for successful analysis, storage, and use of this data. Companies may design their own business intelligence architecture or rely on the services of a consultant for this need.
A company's business intelligence architecture includes the systems and devices used in business intelligence operations, such as servers and workstations, along with the software. The software needs to be secure, as companies do not want to compromise their data and may need to keep certain information highly confidential. It also needs to be robust and flexible. As companies grow, their BI needs typically evolve, and software that cannot evolve with them may be a significant problem.
Information technology professionals typically design business intelligence architecture. This includes everything from developing databases to store information to determining the best software products to use for analysis. The components of the system need to work smoothly with one another to enable clear communication and analysis. In the event the system needs to be changed or upgraded, these personnel are responsible for porting information over to the new system.
The business intelligence architecture must to be able to collect and store data. It may also assign scores to rate the reliability and trustworthiness of the data. A company might consider data taken directly from the records of individual retail stores reliable, because it reflects hard sales numbers. On the other hand, information about the competition from an insider source might be less reliable, because the company has no way to verify the information, relying solely on the source to extract accurate and useful data.
Numerous people may need to access the business intelligence architecture as part of their work. This can include departments like marketing and risk analysis, who evaluate data to determine what is working for a company and what is not. Likewise, executives may expect access so they can prepare reports and monitor business activities. The need for access must be balanced with the desire for security, as companies do not want unauthorized personnel in the system. A disgruntled employee could steal information for use by a competitor or sabotage the system and compromise the data it contains.