Real time Business Intelligence (BI) need no longer be a distant dream. Cloud based data stores can be exploited for BI purposes! A number of underpinning cloud backup and storage applications and infrastructure components can be exploited to make operational BI a reality. The potential benefits of cloud based BI include timely, anywhere, anytime access to data; faster decision making; improved customer service and reduced opportunity costs in marketing and sales.

Cloud based BI can be used to get the right information in the right hands at the right time, no matter where they are. For instance, cloud based data stores could make it easy for a mobile worker to leverage customer information available in the data bases to understand customer tastes in a specified geographical area. The data should enable the sales executive target specific types of customers or promote specific types of products in the region.

‘Getting a single view of a customer’ can be facilitated with operational cloud based BI. This may be especially important in financial services where information has to be updated daily or even hourly. This real time information availability can make a lot of difference to the customer service representative trying to resolve sticky issues with customers.

Cloud BI is not unlike traditional BI. Cloud based BI systems can be built around well defined user communities and diverse data sources that are centralized into a single data repository. The centralized approach, then, enables the enterprise take advantage of advances in information management; metadata integration; data quality; master data management and performance workload management including data security. This centralization further makes it possible to ensure that BI capabilities rolled out to operational level workers, actually provides them access to the data they need.

However, BI in the cloud is still so new and the ideas are still to mature and grow. Currently cloud BI is ideal for small to medium businesses that do not have large volumes of data and their data stores in the cloud will help them use their data optimally. Even then they will have to face challenges associated with data security, laws, data ownership, storage and manipulation, integration and customizations of the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and client specific needs. However, it is clear that BI in the cloud is poised to take off as cloud based service providers strive to integrate BI with cloud and cloud storage.