The Three Concepts Defining Business Intelligence

Oct 17, 2019

Learn about three inter-related concepts guiding the development of our business intelligence offerings.

At our recent event on Improving Business Effectiveness with Business Intelligence and Data Science (BIDS), Joren Melis, Associate Director of BIDS, presented an overview of three inter-related concepts guiding the development of our business intelligence offerings…

Data Literacy

Obviously, for companies to derive value from business intelligence, data users must be able to read, work with, and “argue with” data; in other words, they must be “data literate.” Unfortunately, the rate of data literacy is quite low among business decision makers and C-suite leaders across industries, according to a study by Qlik. Indeed, at 32 percent, it is not much greater than that of 16 to 24-year olds (21 percent) who are not yet in, or have barely entered, the workforce1

Data Literate graph

Data Democracy

Data literacy is irrelevant without data democracy. When data is democratized, information is available in a digital format which users can access it without any assistance.  Democratizing data assets is one of the key challenges for companies these days. Data is available in a variety of formats, from a variety of sources. These assets are hardly exploited by companies due to a lack of governance and strategy. Connecting this data and making it available across the organization should be a key strategic objective for every company.

What vs. Why Analyses

Gaining business intelligence involves answering both “what” and “why” questions. “What” questions, such as “Is our market share increasing?” are straightforward to answer using static reports and dashboards (assuming, of course, that the right KPI is being tracked). Interpreting the results is as easy as reading the results.

However, “why” questions, which attempt to get at causality, are more challenging to answer. For instance, if, you know that your market share is increasing (having answered a “what” question), you then need to know why that’s so. Is it because of additional reps in the field? Or, is it because of a new social media campaign? Getting answers on “why” questions is considerably more challenging than answering “what” questions and requires data literacy, data democracy, and tools.

Thus, the support needed to answer both types of questions is quite different as seen in the table below.

What and Why chart

These three concepts represent core challenges for the industry, and companies that turn to IQVIA for help in these areas are using business intelligence to their advantage.



1 Qlik Data Literacy Surveys, August 2017 – February 2018.