What is it?

Business intelligence (BI) is a technology-driven process for analyzing data and presenting actionable information which helps executives, managers and other end users make informed business decisions. BI encompasses a wide variety of tools, applications and methodologies that enable organizations to collect data from internal systems and external sources, prepare it for analysis, develop and run queries against that data and create reports, dashboards and data visualizations to make the analytical results available to decision-makers.


Why is it important?

The proper BI portfolio leads to faster and more accurate reporting, analysis or planning; better business decisions; benchmarking; and improved data quality. By tracking, analyzing, and visualizing data the legal team can make better informed decisions which can yield previously unknown cost savings, and operational efficiencies, as well as analysis of internal and external trends.


What to look for in BI tools?

When selecting a BI tool, consider your companies security and privacy requirements including whether IT should be involved at an early stage. Additionally, consider reporting and analytic capabilities of the tool. As well as integration with existing technologies.


Subcategories Business Intelligence, Reporting, Dashboards and Analytics

Within this broad category, we want to highlight a few important subcategories:

Data Analysis

Data analysis is a process of inspecting, cleansing, transforming and modeling data with the goal of discovering useful information, informing conclusion and supporting decision-making. Data analysis has multiple facets and approaches, encompassing diverse techniques under a variety of names, and is used in different business, science, and social science domains. In today’s business world, data analysis plays a role in making decisions more scientific and helping businesses operate more effectively.


A dashboard is a type of graphical user interface which often provides at-a-glance views of key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to a particular objective or business process. Dashboards can be broken down according to role and are either strategic, analytical, operational, or informational. Strategic dashboards support managers at any level in an organization, and provide the quick overview that decision makers need to monitor the health and opportunities of the business. Dashboards of this type focus on high level measures of performance, and forecasts. Strategic dashboards benefit from static snapshots of data (daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly) that are not constantly changing from one moment to the next. Dashboards for analytical purposes often include more context, comparisons, and history, along with subtler performance evaluators. Analytical dashboards typically support interactions with the data, such as drilling down into the underlying details. Dashboards for monitoring operations are often designed differently from those that support strategic decision making or data analysis and often require monitoring of activities and events that are constantly changing and might require attention and response at a moment’s notice.

Metrics & Tracking

A Business Metric is a quantifiable measure that is used to track and assess the status of a specific business process. Every area of business has specific performance metrics that should be monitored – marketers track marketing and social media metrics, such as campaign and program statistics, sales teams monitor sales performance metrics such as new opportunities and leads, and executives look at big picture financial metrics.  The legal department should track metrics like: spend to budget; staff workload; spend by matter and department; outside and inside spend; outside counsel rate increases; etc.