what is data intelligence

There’s a lot of buzzwords in data, but ‘data intelligence’ isn’t one of them. I'll give you the right to rebuttal, but data intelligence is hugely important. Very simply, it’s about helping organizations make better business decisions based on their data.

Not to be confused with business intelligence, data intelligence is the ability of organizations to understand and use their data in an effective and beneficial way to optimize output, increase efficiency and be an industry leader. If you’re a business experiencing a downturn in sales, data intelligence can help you identify why. If you’re a subscription service with a surge in memberships, data intelligence can tell you why - and maybe even how to capitalize on it.

Unfortunately, although it sounds simple enough, there is no easy, quick fix to achieve data intelligence. It’s not something that can be achieved overnight. It takes a lot of coordination and cooperation from numerous departments, buy-in from senior stakeholders, and a good foundation in the form of a well-established data governance initiative. And yes, it also employs the use of analytical tools and methods to further help transform data into useful information.

Why does Data Intelligence matter?

The pay-off can be huge for organizations. Data intelligence minimizes risk while maximizing the benefits drawn from data by helping businesses grow, run more efficiently and protect themselves in a number of ways. The biggest benefit of that is how organizations interact with their customers.

First and foremost, data intelligence results in improved consumer profiling and segmentation. This allows businesses to better understand their target customers and group them together according to common characteristics and behaviors.

Businesses can group and classify customers according to demographics, purchasing behaviors, experience with product and services, and so much more. Having a comprehensive view of consumer preferences, transactions, and purchasing behaviors allows organizations to make better decisions about the products and services they provide and how they market them to particular groups of customers.

For example, taking new products to market becomes less of a risk, because companies already and insight into their customers' spending habits and preferences. Data intelligence also means that the marketing of those new products or services can be more targeted.

In fact, all marketing strategies will benefit from data intelligence. Data including national, regional, and local sales patterns, inventory, local trends, sales history, and seasonal factors can all inform marketing teams decisions on where and when to invest their budget.

Data intelligence is also able to provide business data with a greater insight into the progress and effectiveness of their investments. For example, businesses that partner with IT companies can develop data intelligence that is tailored to monitoring and evaluating their current investments, as well as forecast potential future investments.

If the data shows that current investments are not as effective as might have been hoped, then data intelligence tools can provide guidance on why not and where organizations might be better putting their money. 

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So I think we can all agree on the importance of keeping the Lights On Data 🙂

Data intelligence can also be used by businesses to improve their logistical and operational planning by providing insights into optimal delivery times and routes and also to potential external influencing factors like route roadblocks and works, which could slow down operations.


In simple terms, data intelligence can take raw, often nonsensical data, and present it in a digestible, visible and useful way for organizations and allows them to make informed business decisions. Data intelligence minimizes risk while maximizing the benefits drawn from data by helping businesses grow, run more efficiently and protect themselves from risk and money loss. 

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About the author 

George Firican

George Firican is the Director of Data Governance and Business Intelligence at the University of British Columbia, which is ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world. His passion for data led him towards award-winning program implementations in the data governance, data quality, and business intelligence fields. Due to his desire for continuous improvement and knowledge sharing, he founded LightsOnData, a website which offers free templates, definitions, best practices, articles and other useful resources to help with data governance and data management questions and challenges. He also has over twelve years of project management and business/technical analysis experience in the higher education, fundraising, software and web development, and e-commerce industries.

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