What is BI? Best books on Business Intelligence

Published July 23, 2014   |   

We live in the age of data and data is powerful, if we make sense of it. Business Intelligence is a solution that helps us see what is hidden in data. It uses data about yesterday and today to make better decisions about tomorrow. As Swain Scheps defines it, “Business intelligence is essentially, timely, accurate, high value, and actionable business insights, and the work processes and technologies used to obtain them”. To know more about BI, we recommend you to read the top 20 books. The books are arranged in no particular order.

Best books on Business Intelligence

1. Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die

Author: Eric Siegel and Thomas H. Davenport
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
“It’s an easy reading book for quite heavy topic. Even though most of the topics are not new to me but at least it taught me how to explain predictive analytics in easy term. One thing that I learn most is the last chapter about uplift modeling: not predicting the response, but only focusing those who can be influence through contact. Overall, it’s a recommended book for business leaders who wants to double or triple their ROE using analytics.” – Eka Aulia

2. The CIO Paradox: Battling the Contradictions of IT Leadership

Author: Martha Heller and Maryfran Johnson (2012)
Publisher: Bibliomotion
“As a senior executive who oversaw the IT department of a major academic medical center for over a decade, I know first-hand that Martha Heller describes a true phenomenon that calls upon CIOs to cultivate a depth of knowledge of corporate behavior if they are to thrive in their careers. Tech savvy, strategic thinking and organizational intelligence don’t always come together in a single individual, yet all are critical to success in this pivotal role plagued by the contradictions Heller so clearly describes. Her insights inspire and deliver practical ways to deliver the value their companies so critically rely on. This will become the CIO’s bible in no time.” – Allison Rimm

3. Too Big to Ignore: The Business Case for Big Data

Author: Phil Simon
Publisher: Wiley
“A great introduction to Big Data. The author clearly presents his view on this noble topic. Big Data is here to say, even if most people refuse to acknowledge its existence. The author gives some examples regarding the way Big Data is being used to drive companies growth and he even presents examples of how it’s being used by the government. You won’t find detailed technical explanations of this current “hot topic”, nor a detailed assessment of the technology involved. However, this book will open your eyes to the possibilities that are presented by harnessing the power of Big Data. A recommended reading.” – Helder

4. Data Science for Business: What you need to know about data mining and data-analytic thinking

Author: Foster Provost and Tom Fawcett
Publisher: O’Reilly
“Excellent, broad coverage of data science. This is a rare technical book that finds the proper balance of not being too high-level in which you only are getting a sense of main concepts but also not so detailed that you are lost in the detail and complicated mathematics. Highly recommended for both business and technical team members.” – Greg

5. Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten

Author: Stephen Few
Publisher: Analytics Press
“A very solid book. I’m a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it as the subject matter is a bit dry. But it really speaks to what I do or hope to do in my job: clearly present useful, actionable information to my clients. The book is clear, thought-provoking and very useful to anyone that does data analysis and has the need to present the data to others.” – Travis

6. Healthcare Business Intelligence

Author: Laura Madsen
Publisher: Wiley
“Laura Madsen’s book provides a good primer on the topic of business intelligence data and software for the healthcare industry. She defines “BI” and the major tenets of using that for healthcare. In addition to the main book material, Laura provides a full appendix of useful information as well as a companion website with electronic content. Laura stays at a high level and does not dig too much into details. This should be a good read for healthcare executives considering a BI project or for those new to the BI topic.” – Doug Lautzenheiser

7. Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning

Author: Davenport, Jeanne G. Harris, Gary Loveman
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
“The focus in this brief volume is on trends in analytics as well as how and why organizations should improve their analytical capabilities. I would have preferred to see more details and case studies that delve into specific metrics that have helped organizations, rather than the generalities that fill out most of this text. After reading this, you will be convinced that your organization needs to improve its analytical capabilities, but this book will not necessarily give you a detailed road map that will get you there. Nevertheless, it serves as a good introduction to the topic.” – David Cain

8. Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis

Author: Stephen Few
Publisher: Analytics Press
“A good overview of different ways of visually analyzing data. Essentially an instruction manual what good data products should include to help end users, and what end users should be looking for in their software. It also gives some good pointers, not just on what types of graphs you should make available, but what users should be able to do with those graphs. Though it’s 315 pages, it’s actually very short due to the number of graphs. Plus there is a lot of information laid out in earlier chapters that is repeated a quickly be skipped. I’m guess you’ll read through this once, and then just look at the section headings for reference.” – Robert

9. Business Intelligence Roadmap

Author:  Larissa T. Moss, Shaku Atr
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
“This book is the perfect blend of project management techniques, application of the software development lifecycle framework, and decision support / business intelligence projects. As a project manager for data mart and decision support projects, I am using this book as a reference for making sure all the steps are covered in these types of projects. All areas are at least touched upon if not covered in greater detail. The authors do an excellent job in explaining many of the BI concepts, identifying steps to completion, and raising questions to consider in tailoring the success of these projects to your organization’s circumstances. The deliverables and risks presented for each step fits nicely with the Project Management Institute’s PMBOK framework and the tips at the back of the book are incredibly helpful.” – Jeff Techico

10. Mondrian in Action: Open source business analytics

Author: William D. Back
Publisher: Manning Publications
“This book is well suited for beginners in Mondrian with Pentaho. What I really liked about this book is the role based structure of chapters in this book. Chapters are clearly identified with roles like data architect, business analyst. A person reading the book can best make use of it by focusing more on the chapters that are relevant to his/her role. The book is detail oriented. Solutions proposed are thoroughly described. For instance the designing of star schema and design considerations while dealing with Slowly Changing Models which factors in multiple types of SCMs. This helps the reader in coming up the ideal modelling technique to be followed based on the nature of the data.” – Muthukumar Kb

11. The Data Warehouse ETL Toolkit

Author:  Ralph Kimball, Joe Caserta
Publisher: Wiley
“This is one of the few references out there providing the building blocks of good ETL design. There is plenty of technical documentation and forums out there that are specific to one ETL tool or DBMS but this is a better starting place for ETL developers. It is required reading as ETL projects often take short cuts in design, data quality and metadata management and reporting. This leads to very expensive Data Warehouse administration costs and often a complete rebuild of load jobs. The book is relevant for people using most ETL or ELT tools and it will remain relevant for years even as the ETL products continue to advance and mature. It is targeted at DW but the basic flow of Extract, Clean, Conform and Deliver is suitable for most types of data loads.” – Vincent Mcburney

12. Business Intelligence for Dummies

Author: Swain Scheps
Publisher: Dummies
“A great reference for seasoned Business Analysts and BI newbies alike. Whether you’re in the BI field or not, this book provides simple, to the point information that will help you target your business’ needs, build a plan, and even help you understand the connection between business intelligence and business warehousing.” – H. Khan

13. Successful Business Intelligence

Author: Cindi Howson
Publisher: Mcgraw-Hill Osborne Media
“Cindi is a master in helping the reader and implementer understand where to find and recognize value in deploying Business Intelligence. She is not theoretical, but a pragmatist who cites example after example and has hands-on experience. So many authors talk about the subject and quote others, but Cindi’s knowledge is experiential and based on exposure to products and use cases. She steps you through the choices and helps you understand how to measure value. She speaks to both the business users and the technocrats with a language and examples that we all can understand. A refreshing read and not a re-hash of older tomes on a similar topic.” – S. L. Hoffman

14. The Performance Management Revolution

Author: Howard Dresner
Publisher: Wiley
“Howard Dresner is the perfect person to undertake the educating of the business masses in Performance Management. As the assumptive “father” of Business Intelligence and resulting owner of the revolution to Performance Management, he embodies the thought process of what must occur to catapult the business into the 21st century. The materials are presenting in such a way that a junior executive or the uninitiated in management disciplines will easily consume and be able to make use of the material. It is thoughtful, clearly stated and encourages the reader to take advantage of the simple prescription to change the path of business to success.” – S. L. Hoffman

15. Relentlessly Practical Tools for Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence

Author: Ralph Kimball
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Recognized worldwide as one of the leading authors in the Data Warehousing industry, Ralph Kimball discusses this collection of effective tools businesses can use to their advantage. This book covers the complete lifecycle including project planning, requirements gathering, dimensional modelling, ETL, and Business Intelligence and analytics. The authors provide detailed, technical guidance which expands beyond the toolkit essentials to provide fresh insights and best practices.

16. Too Big to Ignore: The Case for Big Data

Author: Phil Simon
Publisher: Wiley
“This book is based on articles that had already appeared, in print or on the web, but it’s much more than a collection. Even if most of the articles were already stored on my pc in electronic form, having them all put together in a book, revised and organized by topic, is a great advantage. This is an infinitely useful collection of practical tips that can be immediately used to solve common problems in Data Warehouse projects, belonging to many different areas like dimensional design, project management, performance optimization.” – Andrea Vincenzi

17. Information Dashboard Design

Author: Stephen Few
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Stephen Few is a leader in the field of Data intelligence. In this book, he exposes the common problems in Dashboard design and describes the best practices that businesses should follow in order to create great looking Dashboards that perform well. The book not only gives tips and advice on what should and should not be included but it also gives real-life examples to provide further substance. This book is a must-read for anyone looking to begin the design process for an information Dashboard, or even those who simply want to know more about the subject.

18. Business Intelligence with MicroStrategy Cookbook

Author: Davide Moraschi
Publisher: Packt Publishing Limited
“Business Intelligence with MicroStrategy Cookbook is my best technical reading experience so far! Many reasons contribute to it, but first of all it is the author’s manner of writing: some very tasteful humor, openness and being exact to the point. Another is that Davide relentlessly provided short (2 min or so) videos on DropBox that accompany each achievement or goal as you progress thru the book, and a picture worth 1,000 words, we know it best – Business Intelligence developers and alike! The book is also well structured: it covers a topic and lets you experiment, if you ever get stuck, each section is followed by a how to sort of an explanation.” – A. Zubarev

19. Business Intelligence Competency Centers

Author: Gloria J. Miller
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
“Very good book that explains the basic fundamentals for organizing a business intelligence group. I highly recommend it for anyone who doesn’t know about BI. If you are a person with a lot of BI experience, there are other books that may be of better benefit for you. This books covers the basics that all BI personnel must understand, but it does not go into deeper case-specific scenarios that one may be looking for.” – Gil Pizano

20. Data Mining for Business Intelligence: Concepts, Techniques, and Applications in Microsoft Office Excel with XLMiner

Author: Galit Shmueli, Nitin R. Patel, Peter C. Bruce
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
“This book provides an excellent overview of a variety of data mining techniques related to business analysis. It does not provide much detailed statistical discussion or “how-to” steps. Instead, it provides enough detail to explain major concepts, the strengths and weaknesses of various analytic techniques, and when to use which technique. That alone is worth the price of admission. Readers without some background in math or statistics may find it necessary to do additional reading if they want to implement these techniques on their own.” – C. Muser