Business Intelligence has been around for as long as businesses. The Ancient Greeks would use early examples of coins to buy and sell, then keep ledgers to keep a record of everything they had traded that day. Early homosapiens would paint pictures in caves to show how many animals had been hunted that day. Even Herodotus, arguably the first historian, claims that there were tablets on the Pyramids at Giza describing how many radishes, onions and garlic had been consumed.

All of these are forms of business intelligence, but not in the way we know it today.

In 2015 we have hundreds of Terabytes of data that we can draw on to look at how our businesses are performing and what we can do to improve performance. It may be several millions times more complex than the data used in ancient times, but the truth is that the businesses who utilise it, do so for the same reasons: business success.

Without it Google, Facebook and Twitter may not have completed 12 months in business, let alone becoming three of the largest companies in the world.

The importance of utilising this kind of data cannot be overstated and is the key to how many companies operate.

Take retailers during the Christmas period as a prime example, it has become the most important time of the year for global sales. Approaching this time without sufficient business intelligence would be tantamount to throwing a dart at a board with a blindfold on after being spun around: You have a chance of hitting the target and you can guess roughly where it is, but you may well end up throwing in completely the wrong direction and damaging yourself.

Through using business intelligence, companies have the opportunity to know exactly what is needed. They can look at historical sales trends to identify what are likely to be the best selling items, this can be linked through to the amount of stock being held and then the data from the supply chain can make sure that everything ordered can get to the recipient in good time. Without this data, a company can easily overstock, undersell and destroy reputation through late deliveries.

It is not just in the comparatively traditional industries that business intelligence plays a key role either. Without it Google, Facebook and Twitter may not have completed 12 months in business, let alone becoming three of the largest companies in the world. Through their use of business intelligence and big data collection, they have managed to create sites that optimise the user experience and that can target specific demographics for advertisers. If they did not have the ability to do this, they would still be unprofitable glints in Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page's eyes.

What these companies have shown is that through using the data they hold on their customers, they can create better platforms than anybody else. They can also monetise this data through advertising and even selling their own products. If people don't like something about a product it is possible to see it before sales start going south and changes can be made to improve them without any kind of sales drop.

We learn about the inner workings of how companies use their data due to our extensive network of industry summits that we hold across the world. We have one in London on 10th May, the Big Data Innovation Summit. If you are interested in finding out more about how the world's most successful organisations utilise their data, why not have a look?