What is Business Intelligence:
From Gartner: Business Intelligence (BI) is an umbrella term that includes the applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to, and analysis of, information to improve and optimize decisions and performance. Source: http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/business-intelligence-bi/
We all have data, tons of it. And while data reports are useful in the day-to-day operations of your business unit, these reports do not allow you to really analyze and "dig" into your data to understand the health of your organization. You may see a drop in your revenue this month, but you do not have the tools available with the data report to figure out why your revenue dropped. Utilizing Business Intelligence solutions can help you in the quest to understand the "why" when things happen.
What is the Cloud:
"The Cloud" refers to software and services that run on the internet, instead of locally on your computer. Most cloud services can be accessed through a web browser or through dedicated mobile apps. The advantage of the cloud is that you can access your information on any device with an internet connection. Source: http://www.recode.net/2015/4/30/11562024/too-embarrassed-to-ask-what-is-the-cloud-and-how-does-it-work
Nearly everyone today is using some type of service "In the Cloud," but what does that really mean? Having something "In the Cloud" boils down to paying someone else to run and manage any physical servers, physical storage, and software applications associated to a particular service so it's available to you anywhere you have an internet connection.
What is a Dashboard:
A Dashboard is a visual tool that allows you to view data in real time. When coupled with your KPIs, you can build a dashboard that enables you to gauge the health of your organization or business unit "At a Glance". Take, for example, a customer support call center. Providing a dashboard to employees detailing current number of calls in the queue, number of active agents currently on the phone, and number of available agents, will better allow the team to decide when an agent can step away from their desk or take lunch. To build on that example, you could provide your call center manager with a separate dashboard detailing call statistics and breakdowns to better allow them to schedule agents based on anticipated call volume.
What are KPIs and why are they important:
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are measurable values you set to determine how well your group is achieving business objectives. These KPIs can be set for every level of your organization since your front line workers have different objectives than your management staff. When pairing Dashboards with your KPIs you can enable all levels of staff to have insights into what the business objectives are, and how well the group is progressing toward those set objectives.