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16 Best Business Intelligence Books To Get You Off the Ground With BI

Top business intelligence books blog post by datapine

With ‘big data’ transcending one of the biggest business intelligence buzzwords of recent years to a living, breathing driver of sustainable success in a competitive digital age, it might be time to jump on the statistical bandwagon, so to speak.

Whether covering data science, big data, online data visualization, or data analytics, publications centered on BI and dashboard design are piling up in bookstores around the globe. In this day and age, to remain successful, competitive, and cutting-edge, keeping up with the latest BI trends is essential. But with so many business analytics books out there and so little time, how do you decide which ones are worth your time?

Never fear – here at datapine, we’re always on the pulse with everything data or BI-related, which means that we’ve conducted a colossal amount of research and worked our way through a host of business intelligence books to hand-pick the best ones in the biz.

That said, we’ve selected 16 of the world’s best business intelligence books - invaluable resources that have not only earned a great deal of critical acclaim but are what we consider to be wonderfully presented, incredibly informational, and decidedly digestible.

Our top 16 best books on business intelligence explore a wide range of subjects that extend far beyond the rudiment of the field, offering a level of insight that will take your business intelligence skills and confidence to a whole new level.

But before we unveil our definitive rundown of intelligence and business analytics books, let’s explore some facts, figures, and insights that will inspire you while steering your success in the exciting world of BI.

"Data is what you need to do analytics. Information is what you need to do business." – John Owen, an age-old BI pioneer

Business Intelligence: The Hard Facts

These facts and insights demonstrate the immense power of leveraging BI as part of your ongoing organizational strategy:

  • Brands or organizations that use BI are five times more likely to make better, faster decisions.
  • 85% of business leaders strongly believe that big data will significantly enhance the way that they do business.
  • Globally, as of 2022, the number of smartphone users reaches 6.6 billion which translates to 83% of the world's population. This growth brings a wealth of insight, and if you’re BI-savvy, you’ll be able to squeeze every single drop of value from the mobile data available at your fingertips.
  • Expanding on our previous point, presently, 42% of companies plan to deploy mobile-based BI as part of their growth strategy.

Now that we’ve established the undeniable importance of BI in the digital age, let’s explore the books that will assist you in gaining the knowledge in addition to the skillset you need for success.

1) "Data Strategy: How To Profit From A World Of Big Data, Analytics And The Internet Of Things" by Bernard Marr

Data strategy by Bernard Marr

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According to this book, less than 0.5% of all data is currently analyzed and used. That's staggering. And while many business leaders remain skeptical about the application of big data in their business activities, if any book can change their minds, it’s this one.

Drilling down deep into how to create a sustainable BI strategy while collecting and analyzing big data in the most proficient way possible, this really is one of the quintessential business intelligence and analytics books of the modern age.

What’s more, in addition to gaining a wealth of fresh BI-based knowledge, this book, written by Bernard Marr, will also offer you priceless information on the Internet of Things and its role in the future of business analytics. In its second edition, published in 2021, Marr adds more insights into understanding customers and markets and how to produce great experiences and products using data.

2) “Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science” by Bill Schmarzo

“Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science” by Bill Schmarzo

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Written in a practical style with hands-on exercises, this book by analytics expert Bill Schmarzo aims to work as a guide for businesses trying to leverage the power of analytics efficiently. Through its 320 pages, the author teaches readers how to exploit new sources of customers and products, uncover hidden business opportunities, and optimize operational tasks using advanced analytics. 

After going through this piece, readers are expected to “think like a data scientist” and be able to extract all the hidden opportunities in their business data. Understanding where and how to leverage huge amounts of information, how to integrate analytics processes into everyday operations, and how the use of data no longer needs to be a technical task for the IT department only, among other useful knowledge. What readers enjoy the most about this book is the fact that it provides valuable tips and techniques needed to get started with data analysis at an organizational level. Definitely, a valuable business intelligence roadmap book to add to your library. 

3) “The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics” by Tim Harford 

“The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics” by Tim Harford

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Recently published in 2021, this piece written by economist and renowned author of nine books Tim Harford guides readers through a journey to understanding the power of statistics. Under the premise that statistics “are not the enemy” Hartford provides ten strategies to assist the reader in eliminating predefined biases regarding statistics and teach him/her the best ways to understand its meaning and the role they play in our daily lives. 

Using a mix of psychology and scientific research with the author’s personal anecdotes, this book explains how, while the use of statistics in the media, politics, advertising, and more is often misleading, it doesn’t mean that they should be mistrusted as a whole. By learning how to make sense of the numbers, look at data objectively, and explore their curiosity, humans can actually extract positive information to “live better and work smarter”.

Since its recent publication, the book has received a wide range of positive reviews from its readers. Most of them highlight the fact that the author manages to explain economics and statistics in a way that is accessible and approachable. You don’t need to be a mathematician or an economist to make sense of the numbers that surround us every day. 

4) “From Big Data to Big Profits: Success with Data and Analytics” by Russell Walker  

“From Big Data to Big Profits: Success with Data and Analytics” by Russell Walker

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As you most likely already know, big data has become business's biggest asset in today’s modern context. This is even more true considering how the different technologies and BI tools have made analytics easier and accessible for a wide range of users. All of these elements make it the perfect moment for organizations to extract the maximum potential out of their data, and turn it into significant profit. 

With that argument as a base, our next book is the perfect introduction to the world of big data. How it works, how its created, and how companies like Apple, Netflix, LinkedIn, Amazon, and others, have turned massive amounts of information into huge profits. Written by experienced analyst Russell Walker, this piece teaches its readers the value of turning big data from its strategic and tactical nature into new revenue streams that translate into improved customer experiences, enhanced operations, product development, and much more. 

Readers of this book really enjoyed the fact that it provides actionable knowledge that they can apply to their own businesses and jobs. This is possible thanks to SIGMA, a framework based on Walker’s own experience that teaches organizations how to implement a data strategy and how to monetize it. Paired with this, readers also get key knowledge about the data scientist position such as the skills needed, best practices, how a team of analytics should work in a company, and others. Making this publication one of the greatest business data analytics books out there.  

5) "Big Data Demystified: How To Use Big Data, Data Science And AI To Make Better Business Decisions And Gain Competitive Advantage" by David Stephenson PhD

Big Data Demystified by David Stephenson

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Big data encompasses a significant portion of the BI pie, and this 2018 offering from David Stephenson Ph.D. is a results-driven manual that boasts equal measures of intrigue, inspiration, and practical insights tailored to today’s information-rich age – one of the finest business analytics books of the moment.

Not only will you learn how to handle big data and use it to enhance your everyday operations, but you'll also gain access to a host of case studies that will put all of the tips, methods, and ideas into real-world perspective. Moreover, unlike many of the business analytics books in our lineup, this piece also delves into emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AL) and machine learning (ML) applications. This is one of the world's best books for building a BI system by leveraging the power of big data – don’t miss out.

6) "Effective Data Storytelling: How to Drive Change with Data, Narrative and Visuals" by Brent Dykes

"Effective Data Storytelling: How to Drive Change with Data, Narrative and Visuals" by Brent Dykes

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Moving on with our list of the best BI books out there, we have “Effective Data Storytelling: How to Drive Change with Data, Narrative, and Visuals” by storytelling expert Brent Dykes. In contrast with other similar publications, this book focuses on generating powerful narratives with data and the psychological aspect of it rather than just the visualization part. This makes it a valuable tool for analysts, marketers, salespeople, and any other professional looking to understand the power of data stories in their full scope. 

Readers of this piece can expect to learn how to mix data, narratives, and visuals to extract the maximum potential out of business information. With insights on how to turn raw data into compelling stories, key audience drivers, storytelling principles, and mistakes to avoid, as well as use cases and examples, this guide provides readers with the necessary skills to efficiently communicate their information and make better decisions. 

Amongst the many positive reviews, this piece has gotten since it was first published in 2020, readers particularly enjoyed the content and structure of the book, which makes it a fast and entertaining read. 

7) "Data Science For Business: What You Need To Know About Data Mining And Data-Analytic Thinking" by Foster Provost & Tom Fawcett

Data Science For Business: What You Need to Know About Data Mining & Data-Analytic Thinking, by F. Provost & T. Fawcett

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This comprehensive business analytics book introduces the fundamental principles of data science and walks you through the analytical process necessary for extracting useful knowledge and business value from the information you collect. It’s laden with practical examples, so dust off your high-school math skills and prepare to follow a steady stream of data-analytical thinking. This position includes success stories of model use of data science by leading companies and illustrates how different tools helped them deal with strong business challenges.

With a wide spectrum of subjects covered, ranging from predictive modeling, identifying informative attributes, and segmenting data by progressive attribute selection to estimating costs and benefits and calculating expected profit – this best-selling book on business intelligence will take you on a real data science journey.

Don’t be deceived by the advanced data mining topics covered in the book – we guarantee that it will teach you a host of practical skills. You’ll not only learn how to improve communication between business stakeholders and data scientists, but you’ll gain a deeper understanding of how to participate intelligently in your company’s data science projects. Moreover, you will gain a clear-cut insight into how data science fits in with your organization and how you can use it for competitive advantage. The book will also show you how to approach business problems data-analytically, using the data-mining process to gather good data in the most appropriate way, opening your eyes to multiple data science applications, for example in the recruitment process.

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8) "Performance Dashboards – Measuring, Monitoring, And Managing Your Business" by Wayne Eckerson

Performance Dashboards - Measuring, Monitoring, And Managing Your Business by Wayne Eckerson

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One of the perfect BI books to help you forge a data-driven business culture, this offering from Wayne Eckerson summarizes everything related to business dashboards. Wayne offers an overview of how to install and maintain the effectiveness of a real-world business dashboard. This book will be particularly useful to technical operatives or business managers overseeing their team’s performance. It’s for data-driven people, and as such, by reading this, you will allow Eckerson to help you refine your communication strategy. He understands the technical and social impact of launching BI software across a company. If you’re a datapine user, you’re likely happy to avoid these pains. Wayne goes as far as to dodge office politics around self service BI tools and focus on useful knowledge.

Many aspects of his book go beyond the scope of what datapine provides. It does a great job of pointing out the business habits necessary to maintaining an effective dashboard culture in your company. It’ll help your BI dashboards with the operational, tactical, and strategic vision of your business. One of the best books on business analytics you’ll ever read.

9) "Successful Business Intelligence, Second Edition: Unlock The Value Of BI & Big Data" by Cindi Howson

"Successful Business Intelligence, Second Edition: Unlock The Value Of BI & Big Data" by Cindi Howson

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The originality of this informational business intelligence strategy book lies in the survey designed by its author, Cindi Howson, a Research Vice President at Gartner and an experienced BI analyst, who revealed the analytical strategies used by the biggest players in the industry. It’s not a theoretical piece, but rather a story based on BI strategies that really work. This invaluable BI book showcases a multitude of successful approaches to business intelligence, as each organization requires a different BI implementation, and there is not a single, one-size-fits-all strategy. However, the successful implementations profiled in the book share some fundamental principles that each agile BI solution should follow.

There are certain tools mentioned in the case studies by name that serve as an example of best principles rather than offering prescriptions, and the rest remains in the hands of a BI practitioner. But don’t worry – Cindi Howson will help you out with a mix of proven methods that you can apply to your everyday data-based activities. Providing advice on how to foster an analytical culture in your organization so that every team member will find data relevant and actionable, is an excellent resource that describes how to align your BI strategy with your company’s business goals, improving data quality and monitoring its maturity across various factors.

One of the best books on building a BI system, hands down.

10) "The Wall Street Journal Guide To Information Graphics: The Dos And Don’ts of Presenting Data, Facts, And Figures" by Dona M. Wong

The Wall Street Journal: Guide to Graphics by Dona M. Wong

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Do you spend a great deal of time using spreadsheets, or wondering which graph displays data in top-to-bottom fashion? Then this most excellent of BI books is the one for you.

Clear, concise, and easy to read, this most brilliant of books on business analytics will teach you the fundamentals of how to create professional graphics that showcase invaluable data-driven insights. Simply put, it’s great, particularly if you’re an online marketer or someone who handles large datasets for marketing reports on a regular basis. The book shares what really matters when creating charts rather than focusing on making them flashy – drilling down into how to make your visualizations clear, effective, and meaningful. Author Dona Wong shows us that there are the best colors and fonts to choose for certain types of data while offering a wide range of subtle yet useful examples of how to display it. For instance, one example from the book demonstrates how to display the biggest section of your pie chart at the 12 o’clock mark. Certain readers might find some of the information too basic; nonetheless, Wong delivers a mix of priceless rudimentary insights as well as the golden rules you should follow every time you prepare a chart.

The more sources you have access to, the better. A business that relies on one gauge is no match for one with an array of intelligent, data analytics tools. With an arsenal of interactive online dashboards on your side, you’ll be able to gather and visualize up-to-date metrics effectively. Consequently, you will be able to base your business decisions on real-time data rather than your gut feeling – which is priceless in today’s world. One of the most intelligently crafted BI books on our list.

11) "Data Analytics For Beginners: Your Ultimate Guide To Learn And Master Data Analysis. Get Your Business Intelligence Right – Accelerate Growth And Close More Sales" by Victor Finch

Data analytics for beginners by Victor Finch

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While this book focuses largely on BI knowledge aimed at complete beginners, its refreshing approach to the subject offers fragments of invaluable information for those at all levels.

Offering a sound introduction to BI fundamentals, the insights contained within this brilliant resource not only drill into the importance of embracing digital data for sustainable commercial success; it offers a well-balanced mix of tips and ideas to help you maximize your ROI through all of your BI activities and initiatives.

12) "Too Big To Ignore: The Business Case For Big Data" by Phil Simon

Too Big to Ignore: The Business Case for Big Data, by award-winning author P. Simon

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One of the books based on big data offers a brilliant introduction to the topic. That said, rather than outlining analytic methods, this business intelligence book explains how big data works in a way that is clear, accessible, and completely practical.

Here, you will learn why big data is a such huge deal and why it is necessary for organizations to learn how to leverage it as part of their daily operations.

Phil Simon interlards jargon-free, expert advice complete with big data examples in real-life case studies, and analyzes the thoughts of world-leading practitioners while placing this trend into a practical real-world context that will help accelerate your learning. Covering historical facts, related technologies, data-driven culture, and consumer behavior, this really is one of the best business analytics books for beginners, proving that big data is not a fad but rather an emerging reality that is only going to grow and evolve in the coming years. It’s high time for more businesses to start appreciating the added value that comes with big data analytics – and this book will help inspire your own BI-based efforts. A book to behold.

13) "Business Intelligence For Dummies" by Swain Scheps

Business Intelligence for dummies by Swain Scheps

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A best-selling book on business intelligence, this book delivers exactly what it promises: providing a rock-solid reference for those new to the field and looking for priceless practical knowledge.

Taking a step-by-step approach to learning, this worthy best-selling book on business intelligence will help you choose the right technology to suit your BI-based goals aims, and desires. Moreover, here you will also learn essential skills such as understanding the fundamental principles, designing, and developing your BI plan, creating successful roadmaps, and more. No confusion, no jargon, just sound advice from one of the good books on business intelligence out there.

14) "Business Intelligence Roadmap: The Complete Project Lifecycle For Decision-Support Applications" by Larissa T. Moss & Shaku Atre

"Business Intelligence Roadmap: The Complete Project Lifecycle For Decision-Support Applications" by Larissa T. Moss & Shaku Atre

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In comparison to the other BI books on our list, this book doesn’t explain big data to its readers or offer ideas for solving design-based problems. However, in this book, the authors provide a useful action plan that will help you evolve your business practices by harnessing the power of data.

The structure of this book encourages readers to start using its insights right away (almost in real time) and design their own BI strategy. Each chapter covers a different stage of a BI project, including practical details like project flow charts, project roles, and the risks involved in each of the steps. You may deem some of the content not as innovative as the other books on our list, but don’t forget it’s not an academic book but a typical, well-written project manual that will help you sharpen your practical skills.

15) "Business Intelligence Guidebook: From Data Integration To Analytics" by Rick Sherman

"Business Intelligence Guidebook: From Data Integration To Analytics" by Rick Sherman

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This book explains data warehousing and business intelligence concepts in great detail. It starts with an overview of why data is so important in the business world today and proceeds to cover all facets of a BI project. From purely technical aspects of a project, product architectures, and modeling to tons of illustrations, this book will help you understand the intricate subjects.

Other topics covered here include data integration and BI design, wrapped up by people-related issues, such as processes and project management. Author Rick Sherman has succeeded in finding the right balance between a position for experienced practitioners and a manual for analytics beginners. He takes a comprehensive look at BI, covering the business and technical aspects of BI, the architectural underpinnings both from a high-level solutions architecture as well as low-level query design patterns perspective. Whatever your responsibilities as a BI practitioner, there are chapters in this book relevant to your particular area of competence that provide new skills or spark new ideas.

While this might not be a best-selling book on business intelligence, it is certainly one of the best and worth every minute of your time.

16) "The Data Warehouse Toolkit: The Definitive Guide To Dimensional Modeling" by Ralph Kimball & Margy Ross

"The Data Warehouse Toolkit: The Definitive Guide To Dimensional Modeling" by Ralph Kimball & Margy Ross

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A best-selling book on business intelligence, ‘The Data Warehouse Toolkit’ starts with a short section about the theory of data warehousing and analytics, moving on to a selection of case studies showing how to apply the theory to common business scenarios. It’s also one of the best books for building a BI system.

There are 14 case studies included in the book that stems from numerous industries, such as electronic commerce, procurement, order management, finance analytics, and human resources.

At first glance, the table of contents appears as if the industry-specific chapters apply only to certain sectors, but you’ll quickly find that these industries are used as examples to help readers better understand the underlying design principles. The book covers both technical and business aspects and is up-to-date with state-of-the-art practices and topics. The content covers dimensional modeling techniques and mistakes, bridge tables for ragged variable depth hierarchies and multivalued attributes, project management guidelines, and a comprehensive review of extract, transformation, and load (ETL service) systems and design considerations. A must-read for anyone dealing with data on a daily basis.

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To summarize, here are the best business intelligence books for your reading pleasure:

  1. "Data Strategy: How To Profit From A World Of Big Data, Analytics And The Internet Of Things" by Bernard Marr
  2. “Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science” by Bill Schmarzo
  3. “The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics” by Tim Harford
  4. “From Big Data to Big Profits: Success with Data and Analytics” Russell Walker 
  5. "Big Data Demystified: How To Use Big Data, Data Science And AI To Make Better Business Decisions And Gain Competitive Advantage" by David Stephenson PhD
  6. "Effective Data Storytelling: How to Drive Change with Data, Narrative, and Visuals" by Brent Dykes
  7. "The Wall Street Journal Guide To Information Graphics: The Dos And Don’ts of Presenting Data, Facts, And Figures" by Dona M. Wong
  8. "Data Analytics For Beginners: Your Ultimate Guide To Learn And Master Data Analysis. Get Your Business Intelligence Right – Accelerate Growth And Close More Sales" by Victor Finch
  9. "Performance Dashboards – Measuring, Monitoring, And Managing Your Business" by Wayne Eckerson
  10. "Data Science For Business: What You Need To Know About Data Mining And Data-Analytic Thinking" by Foster Provost & Tom Fawcett
  11. "Too Big To Ignore: The Business Case For Big Data" by Phil Simon
  12. "Business Intelligence For Dummies" by Swain Scheps
  13. "Successful Business Intelligence, Second Edition: Unlock The Value Of BI & Big Data" by Cindi Howson
  14. "Business Intelligence Roadmap: The Complete Project Lifecycle For Decision-Support Applications" by Larissa T. Moss & Shaku Atre
  15. "Business Intelligence Guidebook: From Data Integration To Analytics" by Rick Sherman
  16. "The Data Warehouse Toolkit: The Definitive Guide To Dimensional Modeling" by Ralph Kimball & Margy Ross

These 16 books will form solid foundations for your business dashboard education and will certainly convince you of the benefits of data science in today’s – as well as tomorrow’s – world. Now it’s time to put this knowledge into practice and start utilizing your own online BI tool. We’re right behind you!

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