The Latest Buzz in the World of BI

Marek Koenig specializes in Business Intelligence, SharePoint and Custom Development.

Marek Koenig

Ever feel like whenever you stop and breathe for a moment, some new innovation comes around and if you’re not on top of things you might get lost in the dust? I sometimes feel like that with some web technologies like Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagrm, etc. The world of Business Intelligence (BI) may not be advancing as rapidly as the web, but you still have to pay attention. Especially if your business stands pat, you can expect to miss out on new ways of generating and consuming data.

I’ve compiled a list of buzzwords to get you brought back up to speed on the latest and greatest things “BI.”

Big Data

You might ask yourself, isn’t the data that we consume “big” already? Unless you work with petabytes (1,000 terabytes) of data, then probably not. Think of big data as working with loads of unrelated bits of data like pictures, URLs, and chunks of text. Keeping track of all the messages on Twitter is a good example of what big data is; this isn’t your standard accounting spreadsheet. With many advances in data processing and storage, these large sets of data are finally manageable.

Unstructured vs. Structured Data

When you think of structured data, you think of pre-defined models and relationships; structured data is easily managed in a standard relational database. Unstructured data, on the other hand, fits into the big data mentality that we talked about before.

Data Mining

Mining for data is the next big gold rush in the business. With all the data that you have at your disposal, there have to be patterns and nuggets of information that can be sifted through to give you a competitive edge. Target, for example, uses a lot of data mining techniques to send out coupons for stuff you buy or may need in the future. It’s so good that it knew a particular customer was pregnant before her father knew!


Geospatial is the idea of working with geographical information to enhance your  data sets. An end user is more likely to draw more informed conclusions by looking at larger sets of data on a map than a table filled with rows and columns of lat/long coordinates.

Master Data Management

Master Data Management (MDM) is a process and set of tools that help the enterprise track and ensure their non-transactional data is correct by creating an authoritative source. The process includes collecting, matching, QAing, and spreading out the data to all necessary parties. Imagine customer data that comes in from multiple sources with varying master attributes (name, address, ssn, etc); you would have a difficult time figuring out which one is correct. MDM brings all of the pieces together and figures out which one is right based on pre-defined business cases.

I hope this short list of buzzwords has helped to inform you what’s happening in the world of BI.

About marek koenig
Microsoft consultant specializing in BI, SharePoint and custom development.

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