In project teams as well as in educational environments there is a severe need to have a shared understanding of core terms of „Business Intelligence“. A widely accepted catalogue of definitions would be great but unrealistic. Kimball complains that „[…] the DW/BI industry is plagued with terminology that’s used imprecisely or in contradictory ways.“(Kimball et al., 2012, p.9). Therefore, a scientific paper about BI should conceptualize its core terms in the sense of an ontological approach. So as to support the BI related communication at the institute of computer science of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences the following conceptualizations are offered to be adapted according to the needs of projects and theses.

Business Intelligence

Rouhani and his co-workers analyzed scientific papers on BI how the term „Business Intelligence“ is conceptualized  (Rouhani et al., 2012). According to them a shift can be found from managerial approaches over technical approaches to enabler approaches. Nevertheless, it can be stated that a widely accepted BI definition can’t be expected and furthermore that the concepts behind this term are changing over time.


From a organisational perspective Business Intelligence can be considered as the capability to fulfill general information requirements based on data processing and its usage in decision making.

From a general perspective Business Intelligence can be considered as the discipline which considers the fulfillment of general information requirements based on data processing and its usage in decision making.

These conceptualizations describe BI as a business capability based on the availability and usability of data generated information.  The IT capabilty to deploy relevant information based on data processing can be seen as inevitable component of the business capability BI. To resume BI can be characterized by the following description:

Business Intelligence is a discipline which focusses on enabling the usage of data for business concerns by

  • gathering data on organizations‘ processes and environment
  • providing processing of data as value adding information services
  • and managing a framework of guidelines, tools and processes needed for these concerns

Remark: According to Rouhani the BI conceptualization proposed here can be classified as enabler approach.


Kimball, Ralph (2008): The data warehouse lifecycle toolkit. 2nd ed. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Pub.

Rouhani, Saeed; Asgari, Sara; Mirhosseini, Seyed Vahid (2012): Review Study: Business Intelligence Concepts and Approaches. In American Journal of Scientific Research Issue 50 (2012) (50), pp. 62–75.


Author: Westenberger, Hartmut

Last revised: 10.10.2018